the immigré

30 what you ask for

‘Emotionally and socially, when you ask for help you are putting yourself “one down.”  It is a temporary loss of status and self-esteem not to know what to do next or to be unable to do it.  It is a loss of independence to have someone advise you, heal you, minister too you, help you up, support you, even serve you.’*

“Wholeness is built into the universe – there is no hierarchy.”**

In the present climate, labelling someone an immigrant feels like “down-grading” their life; it’s something beyond temporary – it might well be the status they must live with and be know by for the rest of their life.

If in the normal course of life so full of helping, we hardly notice the one-upness and one-downiness Edgar Schein is referring to in the quote, above.  The greater the down-ness, the greater the up-ness.  The person being asked to help is being invited to play a noble role, the “helpee” bestowing their potential helper with power and value.

Whether this relationship of help is temporary or more permanent, it is a relationship of imbalance marked by vulnerability on one side and power on the other, but as quantum physicist Basil Hiley proffers, the universe doesn’t encourage hierarchy.

We know we cannot say yes to everything – even Carl Allen understands this now.  In between Yes and No, though, there is a third response.  It is what Michael Bungay Stanier calls a “slow Yes”:

‘Saying Yes more slowly means being willing to stay curious before committing.’^

This slow Yes allows us to open our minds, open our hearts, and open our wills in an imaginative and creative way; it makes it possible for us to see people with hopes and dreams, and pain and dis-ease.

We provide the person who is not like us – the stranger, the alien, the immigrant – with respect and dignity.  Emmigrés are those who have left us to settle in another country.  Why not think of those who join us as immigrés?

(*From Edgar Schein’s Helping.)
(**Basil Hiley, quoted in Joseph Jaworski’s Source.)
(^From Michael Bungay Stanier’s The Coaching Habit.)

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