Monday, 14 November 2011

The Quest for Holy Grails

Hello readers! The Blonde Bombshell in Crisis is back on the blog after a little bit of a break. Not that I have gone far really, just a little safari around Namibia in search of the wild side, followed by a short illness and then manically catching up on a backlog of aidwork. Of course us aidworkers like to go on and on about how much work we have to do don't we? Its almost like a religion.

And talking of which, here's a topic that I find amusing in the humanitarian world. The Quest for Holy Grails.


Say what? OK I suppose I should try to de-construct this before reconstructing it into something that vaguely resembles sense. Here goes, according to the trusty Oxford Dictionary online :-

holy - is described as morally and spiritually excellent and
grail - is a thing which is eagerly pursued or sought after

So putting them together we get "a morally or spiritually excellent thing which is eagerly pursued or sought after".

And like the long-suffering knights of Arthurian Legend, aidworkers valiantly and fearlessly approach the Bridge of Death to answer riddles, in the hope that they shall be the ones to cross the gorge unscathed to continue their quest and bring said grails back home triumphant and not be cast into the pit of eternal peril.

"And pray, Sir Knight, what are the holy grails you mention? " I hear you cry incredulously. There are two which easily spring to mind. The first is the holy grail of development (and even wikipedia gets it all totally wrong) which is bandied about in many a development framework, poverty reduction strategy, conference and seminar as if it is some weird rite of passage to the higher echelons of devenlightenment.....can you tell what it is yet? Go on take a wild guess! No? Give up? You surprise me! It's that old chestnut....sustainability. Wake up people! It does not exist. The world is changing, people change, situations change, we are all evolving (like it or not creationists....) so how can anything be truly sustainable? The only thing that is sustainable is change itself. Here is David Mitchell on his soapbox about sustainability, with a delightful table analogy.

And so the aidworker knights gallop forward, faster than you can say "MDF flat pack", leaving a trail of limbless Black Knights in their wake crying "come back, its only a fleshwound!"....and on to the next Quest for the second holy grail.

This one is long sought after in many emergencies. Can you guess this one? Come on! It's right under your nose, all the time.....yup, it's coordination. Getting a bunch of flag-waving, mandate toting, testosterone/or oestrogen (and no doubt nicotine and coffee) fueled, willy wobblers (steady on gender specialists, before you get the gender score card out, its only a metaphor!) to collaborate and work effectively together while running around like headless chickens on speed at the height of a crisis? You must be joking! That's pretty much a near impossibility. But we all like to think we can do it don't we? As if we have some amazing, invincible superhero underpants over our tights, squeezing just a teensy bit too tight as we swagger into the next 'coordination' meeting...sigh......when we are, in fact, as naked as the Emperor in his new clothes.

I'm sure these cowboys have it easier......

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