What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Transformation Within?

Written 4/3/2012

I really hope not!  So here I am. catching myself in this fundraising world starting to think in fundraising terms, staring to frame things in "whether people will give money or not":  "great conversation, they didn't know us yet and weren't ready, but they'll give in the future."  Sigh....  It feels like a dark day.

I've become that guy.  Or am capable of being that guy as I have to.  It is really interesting in thinking about it all in the context of time and the transformation of the self (or at least within one's self).  Here I am in the beginning of this job (read the recent  posts) complaining about and analyzing the position and the culture at this organization, and now here I am, becoming indoctrinated within the same framework.  Thinking about contributions, about getting donors.  I mean it would be virtually impossible not to.  My livelihood right now depends on it.  If I don't raise money, I am gone.  I was one day away this weekend from being done.  I have no choice but to fall within the lines (or confines) of this cultural paradigm.  It is truly sad.  But this is exactly what we as a society are required to do everyday, and in every job.  There are corporate cultures, certain ways of doing things, and requirements that we all must adhere to should we wish to maintain our places within the social order and the working world's order.  And it truly is sad.  Not that we become a part of a culture or a part of something semi-uniform.  That in many ways is positive and very inclusive.  It gives a sense of belonging to many people in many settings, even work.  

My issue with it all is that this is what American culture has seemingly become about: work.  We work as many hours as any country out there and our jobs have become how we mostly define ourselves.  What is the standard question most people ask when they first meet someone?  "So what do you do?"  Who is proud to say, "I'm unemployed?", "I'm in between jobs?", "I just got out of school and am still looking for work?"  Fact of the matter is that we for the most part have started to define ourselves by what we are professionally.  Not what we do when we are at home or out in our free time.  We are our jobs.  If that isn't the case, next time someone asks you what you do, say: "I run and hike when I'm not reading ancient Chinese philosophy."  See, you can't say you're a runner, because then people think you're doing it professionally, and if you said I'm a reader of ancient Chinese philosophy they'll likely ask, "wow, how do you get paid to do that?  Are you a professor?"

Fact is our minds gravitate to work and jobs.  It is how our society has taught us to define ourselves in so many ways.  So that is my dilemma.  Am I now becoming a fundraiser?  Not an occupier, not a runner, not and academic?  Just an organizer, or more aptly a fundraiser?  I'd like to think of myself as a lot of other things and perhaps lastly as a fundraiser - and in fact do.  But it seems that my thoughts are perhaps starting at times to betray me.  When you start seeing people you speak to on the phone as per their capacity to give money, you are a fundraiser, even if just in that singular moment.  Funny how we transform as human beings: with the ebbs and flows of our lives and our social scenarios.  This shows how fickle culture can be on a daily basis.  Whether it is the horizontalism in Occupy, hierarchical fundraising in a political party, or the profit maximizing push of a corporate entity; all are reasons why we need to change our whole social and economic structure.  The world we are currently living is completely corporatized and privatized.  We have to change how we view our worlds, and our lives within them.  We need different motivations, different pathways, and different outcomes to strive for.  We have to change the system.  It is the only way to change our reliance and adherence to these disingenuous social norms, to change our reliance on believing that this is the only way life can be.  Another world is possible. 

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