A couple of months ago, I was invited to an annual gala by a group which works in a hardship area. I could understand why they were so excited. Who would not want to party after spending turbulent months working in a porous area?
In his closing remarks at the gala, the director said: “I think that in a couple of years, we will not have any more business being at the camp.” I thought “wow, these people must be doing a very good job solving the problems in that area”. Just as I was thinking that my friend, almost in a state of depression, whispered: “Oh my, what are we gonna do?” I looked at her surprised.
I thought it was obvious: “You will finally come back home to safety!”. But that was not the obvious case, there was more to it than just coming back home to my idea of safety. You see, the world has so many problems. But the problems provide opportunities.
For my friend, the problem at the camp is an opportunity for her to work and that work is her safety. If the problem at the camp is resolved and she has to come back home, that is a problem because even though the people at the camp have a safe haven, her financial safety is not guaranteed.
If that problem is eliminated, however, it becomes problematic to her because then she almost does not know what to do without it. She has never imagined life without that problem and even though she works hard day and night to resolve it, she has never prepared to live without it!
The resolving of a problematic situation often throws people into disarray to the extent that they would rather have the problem as it is than it being resolved.
Sometimes when problems are resolved it leaves people exposed and in a very vulnerable state, because without their knowledge they have been feeding off the problem and have never taken stock of their abilities.
This is primarily because there is a very thin line between solving a problem and funding it and it takes a lot of wisdom and courage to separate the two. Whether at individual or national level that is one of the reasons why we are having difficulties with the (in)famous handshake.
For some people this supposed solving of the problem is problematic to them, it throws them into a state of confusion. What does this then do to their reward? It disrupts it, because it is assumed that they can only be rewarded in the context of the problem.
Therefore, if focus is not quickly shifted to the ability that people have individually and corporately, they may find ways to recreate the same problem. The truth of the matter is that we are all rewarded for the problems that we solve, but the emphasis is not on the reward it is in our ability to solve multiple levels of problems.
If we put a lot of emphasis on the reward we will lose sight of the fact that it is our inherent ability to solve dynamic problems that need to be celebrated, and therefore even if one problem ends, our ability does not end with it.
We have got to allow ourselves to take on the opportunities presented to us to sharpen our abilities to deal with more advanced situations because problems in themselves are mutative and take on more complex forms.
Therefore, if we spend our time holding onto simpler versions of problems and expecting bigger rewards, it will be counterproductive because sooner or later our ability will not match up to the complexity of the problems at hand.
That is why it is good for things to be thrown into disarray. It is good for traditional strategies not to work anymore and known alliances to disintegrate so that our abilities can be pushed to the limits and we can develop new forms of dealing with complex situations.
It is the only way that our vision can enlarge and our over dependency broken. It is the only way that we can realise our full potential and tap into the resources that are lying dormant in the inside of us.
It is, therefore, to our advantage to solve problems rather than fund them because that is the only way that we can develop capacity to handle bigger problems and be rewarded in bigger ways! —The writer is a communications strategist and Lecturer at Kenyatta University —[email protected]