Thursday, July 04, 2013

Egypt rocks it again.

At the beginning of this year I presented a keynote paper on the new youth (social) movements, as represented by waves of new activism in North Africa and the Middle East - and how it not only challenges powerful elites, but also our way of thinking about youth ministry research, globally. For me, these are signs of hope, signs of people rising up against authoritarian regimes and this will continue. I don't think that paper went down too well. Most members of that audience perhaps felt that this kind of talk and interest are not "youth ministry" proper - most wanted to hear what we can do to get youth back into their church programs (perhaps that's a bit harsh, I concede).
Well, these restless Africans are at it again and, even-though the military in ‎#Egyptare certainly not the long-term solution to Egypt 's deeper challenges, yet the removal of Morsi, is certainly a significant sign of the times. The quest for inclusive governance and communities, justice and peace for minorities and the vulnerable (the poor, women, gays and lesbians, religious minorities, etc.) continues.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Mandela's World Class.

Robin Sharma tweets, 'When you leave the "Crowd of Average and start playing at world-class, you'll face laughter and cynicism. Know that's the price of leadership.'

I don't know much of Sharma - whether he's a guru, prophet or world-class mountain biker. Perhaps he simply excelled in writing (these slogans), or perhaps he is like David Molapo - an excellent motivational preacher. That seems to be more or less what Wikipedia thinks of him.

In the world of Facebook and YouTube, I suppose all of this doesn't matter. What matters is that I 'like' (and RT'ed) that tweet. In my view, this kind of thing does happens. Perhaps this is the reason why most of us stay in the 'crowd'. That crowd. For most of us its a social thing - who wants to be the object of ridicule and cynicism anyway. So, perhaps it would be critical to look deeper into the psychology and validity of this tweet, but also, better to continue to ask the questions about the notion of 'world-class'. We must ask who decide, who sets the standards, but then also, does 'world-class' matter when you stand to risk your credibility? Or, should we ask the prior question: does 'laughter and cynicism' point to you loosing credibility? Why does 'world-class' matter?

It seems that at face level. Sharma equates 'leadership' with 'world-class'. Is that the thing ('world-class') that drives some-one like Nelson Mandela, specifically when he was standing up for justice and incarcerated for that? Surely there was something else. World approval or validation can be very precarious and dangerous. It may even degenerates into a popularity contest or becomes the product of savvy marketing. Beyonce is 'world-class' World-class can also mean dancing to the tunes of a First World market, so, if Apple's latest gadget sells, then its 'world-class'.

What would it mean when Nelson Mandela is called a world icon? Can we say, he is 'world-class'? Of course, he is not facing laughter and cynicism today (especially not today). He certainly faced many dangers and incarceration back in the days-indeed that is the price of leadership. The question then remains what happened the last few years of his life. Did he lose that leadership edge, as 'the world' started to idolize him-as he became a saint of sorts. If laughter and cynicism is the acid test, then he failed it- especially in a time when the political party he lead, degenerated into a den of robbers and haven for political ideologues. Or, perhaps he was way out their league. Perhaps, he consciously started to focus on all the 'charities' and mobilizing the world's stars to make philanthropy sexy. Perhaps this was a new 'world-class' he edged out-to bring us back to each other, to value compassion, care, and the concern for justice. So, in that world-class you will face ridicule and cynicism - so in this sense, Sharma has a point.