Desperate Solutions


.
.
In 1981, I went with a group as an observer to El Salvador to stand witness to the massive atrocities that were happening during the very complex civil war in which the United States was playing a major role.  As Americans we were permitted to enter the country, but then, although the government knew of our presence, we essentially went underground to be escorted secretly from place to place to listen to people and to see what was happening.  Our sponsoring group The Center for Global Education had arranged a tight schedule of visits with people and groups trying to survive in a country that had imploded.  Here are just a few of the situations that remain burned on my memory:
  • Teenagers being kidnapped off the street and sent to be trained as government soldiers taught to kill without their parents being notified of their wherabouts.  Solution: A group dedicated to finding these kids and wresting them away from the government by claiming that their education could not be interrupted.
  • Men, women, children disappearing.  Solution: A group Mothers of the Disappeared  (Comadres) documented and protested cases of people who had disappeared and demanded investigations.  They took photos of bodies found along roadsides and in shallow graves.  They searched prisons and organized support for prisoners.  They held protest marches carrying placards with names and photos of the disappeared.
.
Surviving in a time of great conflict where all the usual solutions are no longer adequate requires a different kind of thinking.  In El Salvador, where much of the countryside was being ravaged by the fighting, one of the most effective solutions for staying alive was the formation of rural communes with strict membership rules about who could be accepted and what needed talent they could bring bring to the group.  These were agricultural communes growing food for themselves and to sell outside their immediate needs.  They formed their own schools to teach basic skills to their children, and they made work assignments for adults specific and irrefutable.  Anyone failing to perform risked being expelled.
.
Our group drove for hours to visit a farm commune where the members had agreed to speak with us.  When we arrived, we were greeted graciously, but clearly something was wrong.  The members of the commune were sleepless and exhausted.  The paramilitary death squads had invaded the commune the night before, killed one man, seriously wounded another, and had tried to drag away a woman. She was saved, but the members had not slept fearing that the soldiers would return. In a desperate effort to live another day, owners of small farms had joined together for mutual protection and support.  It was a desperate solution that required common folk working together in a tight reliable structure, something that had been unheard of before the war.
.
****

.

During the years when I worked for a private child welfare agency, part of my job took me into the West Englewood and North Lawndale neighborhoods of Chicago where the agency had field offices. Remnants of burned and destroyed buildings from the 1968 riots after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination were still evident.  These were dangerous areas where individuals preyed upon decent people living there and upon each other.  Street fighting, shootings, and killings were common.  One learned to be careful.

.
There seemed to be no end to the violence in these and other Chicago neighborhoods until a physician,  Dr. Gary Slutkin devised a new and innovative solution:  Treat violence as an epidemiological disease whose transition must be interrupted. Through his program CeaseFire, the Interrupters program was begin and has been adopted by numerous cities in the United States, and in Iraq and South Africa with documented success.  When a call comes that a street altercation is taking place, the Interrupters rush to the scene and diffuse the situation, therefore little by little, one situation at a time, encouraging people to understand that violent behavior is not a desired solution. The goal is to turn around whole communities by stopping the self-destructive violence and by giving help in getting jobs, education, drug treatment, and counselling.
.
****
.
How does a person develop acceptable solutions for desperate situations?  Obviously this will vary depending on the individual and the situation, but here are some guidelines:
  • Over time, prepare yourself in multidisciplinary areas that are of interest to you.  (See Dr. Slutkin’s background.)
  • Widen your focus to go outside the boundaries of an immediate situation so that your mind sees a broader perspective.
    Example:  I’m taking a series of classes called Citizen Police Academy.  This past week we learned about the S.W.A.T team, how it trains and what are its responsibilities and functions.  I asked what help a sniper is given if he kills someone.  The answer was that the sniper is not debriefed until he has gone through two sleep cycles.  The reason is that any person or policeman who has undergone this kind of trauma becomes so focused on the incident that his mind is fixated on it.  Not until he has had two sleep cycles does his brain open up to see the broader situation in which this incident occurred.  Then he is able to talk about it and remember details of what was happening in the wider arena including his own thoughts.The point here is that to develop solutions in desperate situations, we must go outside the boundaries of the immediate problem to see what possibilities or what relevant details lie  in the broader scene of action and only then bring them back into focus on the situation at hand.What happens during sleep helps the brain to reorganize.  Other ways to help the brain widen its focus are: meditation, taking a break from the current task or switching tasks, walking outside,  or just anything that relaxes you and lets your mind rejuvenate.
  • Practice whole-system analysis.  Not everyone is a big-picture person, and if you are not, then listen to those that are.  Not all big-picture people are able to implement their ideas, and they need others to do this for them.  This may be you.  Think of the joint planning and implementation conducted by the Salvadoran farmers as they developed their survival mechanisms.  You can be sure that this was a cooperative effort through and through with different skill levels and different personalities.
.
****
.
We hear so much these days about the economy, locally and worldwide.  The phrase  “jobs-jobs-jobs” has become a cliche spoken by those who don’t seem to have any clue as to what this even means.  Large batch solutions might be helpful, but it seems that this isn’t working too well in the present political climate.  What to do???
.
Each one of us, potential employer and unemployed worker alike, might want to think about what a desperate out-of-the-box  solution would look like.  For example:
  • What product or service is needed in this community?
  • Is there potentially a paying market for this need?
  • What skills can I bring to the table to provide this product or service?
  • Am I willing to form a team to develop this into a small business?  What might the competition look like?  What funding is available?
  • Is there a possibility for long-term growth of this business?  Would this be a worthwhile endeavor to begin now?
I have a friend who saw a need for a certain type of specialized container, began a business on his kitchen table, and grew his company into a multi-million dollar enterprise.  This takes time, perseverance, and a belief in oneself.   He’s not as unique as one might think.  Others have done it too.  Women have started sewing businesses to provide lingerie, ties, and crafts.  Another friend of mine makes custom stuffed mice in all sorts of fancy dress for special events and gets handsome prices for them.  All of these businesses grew to employ others.
.
.
I don’t know what your situation is, but if current solutions are not working, perhaps it’s time to start exploring other legal and creative avenues.  My best wishes for your success.
.
.

About R. Z. Halleson

Go to http://bit.ly/HallesonBio
This entry was posted in Stories from a Life Long Lived, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Desperate Solutions

  1. This is my first time pay a quick visit at here andd i am really pleassant to read everthing at alone place.

    Like

  2. Shawna says:

    I blog frequently and I truly thank you for your
    information. The article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to
    book mark your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week.
    I subscribed to your Feed too.

    Like

  3. Having read this I thought it was really enlightening.
    I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this information together.
    I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time
    both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    Like

  4. Hey there would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but
    I’m having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.

    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

    Like

    • I use the “Twenty Ten” template at WordPress and customized it as much as they allowed. I had used another template at WordPress and got tired of it, so I switched seamlessly to the Ten Twenty and customized that. I had used other blog platforms in the past when several of my friends and I were blogging together, but at that time, customization was limited. You definitely want to put your own stamp on your blog as it’s amusing to find blogs that are carbon copies of each other because the blogger didn’t change the banner.

      Like

Please share your own thoughts and ideas.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s