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Friday, July 15, 2011

The Wakanheza Project Principle 6: The Moment

From The Wakanheza Project Agency, Business and Community Organizing Guide:
The Moment. The Wakanheza Project is all about suspending judgment, understanding the impacts of powerlessness and environment, appreicating culture, and practicing empathy and respect. We all have the ability, and the obligation, to show sincere caring, kindness and respect in the moment. We cannot change the past or predict the future, but if we practice The Wakanheza Project principles in any given moment, we can reduce the harsh treatment of children and isolation and harm of young people, and improve the lives for families and communities.

I think this concept is especially relevant in libraries. We only see a snapshot of the people who come in our libraries. Even in small towns, we don't know all the past and future things that shape people's lives. It can be paralyzing (and unrealistic) to think about what we can do to Solve the Problem (someone's financial stress, a kid who is treated harshly, teens who seem disconnected and surly). For me, it is much less paralyzing to think, "what can I do, in this very moment, that will help make this moment better?"

In the long run, sometimes it is the small kindnesses we offer that actually do make a big difference in people's lives. I can think of several cases where that has been the case for me--someone else's assistance or help in a stressful moment have made that moment bearable, and have had a ripple effect for me and my loved ones. Sometimes I wish I could track all those people down and tell them about that!

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