I’ve noticed that when it comes to social change, many times our efforts fail because most people believe in, what I call, the “Savior Model”.
Usually when it comes to social change or acts of generosity in general, you come across people who participate think that they can “change” or “fix” the problem by gracing places with their presence. This way of thinking is centered around the self, and assumes that the people that live their life in a different way need to be taught or “saved” from themselves.
And I know this model pretty well because I was the Executive and Chief.
If I can be honest, I feel like I practically invented the model!
There was a time when entering this internship that I thought this experience was going to be all about ME!
“I” was going to create change
“I” was going to “save” West Oakland from itself
“I” was going to be helping the inhabitants of the area to live in a healthier way.
Now when I reflect on my expectation, I’ve Realized that Change can only take place through collaboration. When we look to movements such as the Civil Rights or the Suffrage Movement, although the history books only acknowledge a couple of names, we cannot forget that it was a conscious move by many people that caused change.
When I reflect on the fact that I thought change started and ended with me, I realize that working together is something that we are not taught. I’ve realized that we thrive on competition and trying to “out do” or “one up” each other. But I’m confident that loving, and working together takes more courage.
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it”.
-1 Corinthians:12 21-26
What I’m realizing is that change is an effort that one person cannot achieve alone. It’s a collective effort. But when we fail to acknowledge that the people we intend to help need us, just as much as we need them, the end result of change is hindered. It’s only when we view and acknowledge our counterparts as capable of inciting change and no less than ourselves that then and only then can True Change happen.