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Principles of the Conscientized International Expert: political correctness in international initiatives (Part #5)


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23. Languages: I will only participate in meetings or projects in which arrangements are made for interpretation of discussions into and from the working home languages of all the participants, and in which equivalent arrangements are made for the working documents

It is intolerable that participants from countries which are already underprivileged in many respects should be obliged to interact using the languages of those countries which have contributed most to maintaining their current state.

24. Practical action: I will only participate in meetings or projects which do not confine their activity to verbal exchanges of ideas but ensure a significant convergence on practical action or real-world problems.

Debate is all too easily a substitute for action. The needed thinking has largely been done, but seldom has any impact on the problems - and that is the problem. New angels continue to be discovered on the pinheads of scholastic discourse.

25. Observer detachment: I will only participate in meetings or projects in which it is not expected that I should take up an attitude as a detached observer, unaffected and uninvolved in the societies and issues on which I am supposed to advise.

Such detachment suggests a degree of objectivity which does not correspond to the reality of the situation. At the same time, it establishes an artificial distance from the issues which protects me from any consequences of my actions as well as reducing the credibility of my advice in the eyes of those who should supposedly act upon it.

26. Community dialogue: I will only participate in projects requiring dialogue with those to be affected by the project if the period of dialogue is extended to a point at which the community in question no longer views those coming from outside as a source of interference in their internal affairs.

It is intolerable that experts should undertake hit-and-run investigations of communities. It is well-known that it takes much time for true dialogue to emerge in such situations. It is characteristic of such communities that people who have lived with them for several decades are considered as "foreigners" and not to be wholly trusted. To be worthwhile, as much time as is necessary must be spent with the community in question.

27. Participant interaction: I will not participate in meetings or projects in which the messages between participants must necessarily pass via some central group which, armed with such excuses as "time", "relevance", "mailing costs", etc., regulate or inhibit such communication.

Such communication patterns do violence to the interests which participant factions share, and impede the articulation of those interests, to the advantage of the controlling group. Again it is precisely such practices which reinforce inequalities to which the group should be sensitive and as such erodes its credibility as an instigator of meaningful change.


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