Interaction with workers (from the Clinton Heldstab thread) May 16, 2016 18:09:09 GMT -5 BobWilliston, emy, and 7 more like this
Post by Alan Vandermyden on May 16, 2016 18:09:09 GMT -5
Thank you kittens, I am one who has always had a genuine interest in children and have worked with them for most of my adult life. In the 80's when CSA was being focussed on,it seemed like 'uncles' were the stereotype in most of the teaching modules. I loved my nieces and nephews found them (the modules) very hurtful.
I have quoted from a specific few of the comments, but in doing so I am attempting to engage with the entire "Clinton Heldstab" conversation, which I find very interesting.
In my translation work (English to Marshallese), I often encounter difficulties translating words or phrases such as "general public," "average," or "essential." This has brought to my attention the idea that our Western cultures derived much from Greek thought, passing through "enlightenment" thinking, where these ideas (not just words!) have been formative of our manner of looking at the world and life. And they of course have their usefulness, particularly in the "hard sciences."
But these ways of framing and analyzing ideas can be problematic in dealing with people, and this is what stood out to me in this conversation - not that I am blaming any particular person for doing so, but it seems to be the primary way in which we all form our ideas about groups - we have a particular set of experiences, whether hurtful or healthy, and we then generalize our particular experience and apply it to the entire group. Professing people do this toward workers in one way, and we "exes" tend to generalize workers in an entirely different manner, of course.
My earlier-posted stories about Clint of course were part of the formative particulars for me and my family, and I have been reflecting on a few other stories that were formative for me. These are important to me, because they are concrete experiences that gave me a confidence in workers, which was much more than being "brainwashed." And I of course fully respect other stories that are quite different. That is what this is all about - particularity, particular stories out of which we form our ideas and our very lives!
First, some members of my family (in an earlier generation) had an experience with a young brother worker attempting to molest teen-aged boys. Not good, obviously. But when the workers left the field, their father intercepted a letter this young worker wrote to the boys, and this father - Dutchman that he was - did some hollering! The young man was promptly dismissed from the work. This was decades ago, and I don't believe there were any legal repercussions. I grew up knowing this story, and it gave me the distinct impression that things of this nature were handled. I now know better, of course, but this was a chapter of my family's experience that was very positive in that regard.
Years later - in the fall of 1983, which was the beginning of my fourth year in the work - I was sent to Guam to replace the younger brother worker who had been there with Harry Henninger. This young worker had only been on Guam for two years, but he made Harry very nervous in his always wanting to be with the young boys in the field - swimming excursions and so on. Harry said he was extremely lazy too, complaining about, but not willing to lift a finger to remove, cans and such that were tossed in the yard. That worker returned to the continent to be told he no longer had a place in the work. Again, this gave me confidence that things were handled appropriately.
Now, during my years in the work, we received "coaching" - either in worker meetings or informally, from companions - on "being careful" about being alone in homes with wives - this was both for "appearance sake" and to avoid "temptation." I admittedly do not recall hearing much about being careful with children. But I "grew up" in the work understanding that workers were trying to maintain a "testimony." Of course, this was in the same state/administration wherein Ruben Mata was then abusing young boys. I had no clue about him or any other worker doing this type of thing, and I was stunned when I learned it, when we were in Honolulu, still attending meetings but beginning to experience some weird stuff - another concrete experience that rewrote our narrative in a very different way!
But this advice played out differently with different persons - I took it seriously (and felt guilty concerning my own thoughts), but another worker about my age comes to mind, who seemed to be rather light about it all. On one occasion, during a special meeting rounds in the southern California desert, I was asked to drop him off at the home of a young couple, then I was to go on to stay with another young couple. Knowing we would arrive at the first place a bit early, before the man of the house arrived home at either place, I told this worker that I would just remain and visit awhile at the place where I was dropping him off, as I felt it looked strange to just leave one brother worker there with the woman home alone. I did not suggest this with any mistrust of him or the woman. But he laughed kind of mockingly, saying, "Why? They trust me." My response was to the effect that, "I'm sure they do, but this is the way we keep people's trust."
This is just an example of the input I received through the years, and a little of the way in which I attempted to deal with things. I'm not comparing myself, in an effort to say that I was so much better than this worker or any other worker, but again, just to point out the particularities in our own stories. All I can say is "This is the way it came across to me, and I respect and attempt to understand the way it all came across to you."