A Week After the Tragedy

Once I heard that Lament is the poetry of truth telling. Last week I posted something about the mudslide that took many lives in the garbage dump area, Zone 3, Guatemala City. As the week has gone by I took some time to think and reflect about what I wrote, and I have come to the conclusion that one of the ways of starting anew in the communities who suffered the loss of many people is to open a space for lament.

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A Community in Pain

Ataúdes zona 3

Coffins ready to be picked up by the families from the community

People say bad news travel fast. Some times they travel even faster. Yesterday afternoon I was in a meeting with my friends and colleagues Fito and Teddy. As we were exploring a couple ways of moving forward with a health prevention program in the garbage dump area in zone 3, Guatemala City, Fito received a phone call from his wife. Fito’s wife was asking him to call a good friend of Fito because she heard that something had happened inside the dump and that Fito’s friend was missing. Sadly, something did happen. A mud slide buried a lot of people alive. I say, a lot of people, because the truth of the matter is that we don’t know the exact number of people who died. Fito was finally able to communicate with his friend just to realize that Fito’s friend’s brother was the one who had died. Teddy and I sat in front of Fito, just listening to Fito’s conversation over the phone. We heard screaming coming from the other side of the phone call when Fito’s friend was crying and yelling unconsolably. “IT SWALLOWED HIM! THE DUMP SWALLOWED MY BROTHER!!” Continue reading

La Misión y Sus Frustraciones

Después de hacer el estudio comunitario del que hablé la semana pasada. No pude dejar de pensar en las frustraciones que muchos tenemos al trabajar en un ambiente plagado por el asistencialismo. En el caso de la zona 3 de la Ciudad de Guatemala se han contado hasta 30 diferentes organizaciones trabajando en el área del relleno sanitario. Interesantemente, no hay un cambio para bien o desarrollo comunitario aún cuando algunas han estado por más de 30 años en la localidad.

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Un Estudio Comunitario

IMG_2557En el año 2015 dirigí un estudio comunitario para la organización para la cual trabajo, CMT Guatemala. Junto con un grupo de personas quienes trabajan en áreas marcadas por la pobreza y violencia formamos parte de un entrenamiento que nos llevó a la elaboración de dicho estudio. Como comunidad en formación caminamos y recopilamos información de una comunidad llamada El Anexo Colóm Argueta, en la Zona 3 de la Ciudad de Guatemala.

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Francia, Libano, Bagdad, y La superioridad moral de los quejones chapines

Parece ser que el poder de las muertes ajenas nos mueve más. Sin embargo, ese es el punto del terrorismo, hacer que minimicemos las muertes ajenas para levantar las nuestras. Los moralistas con su pensamiento de superioridad y juicio dicen: “no te importa lo que pasa en Guate, y si lo que pasa en Francia?” Sin embargo, no se dan cuenta que el hacer esta pregunta no es más que una categorización del sufrimiento de otros como menor al nuestro, llevándonos así a deshumanizar tanto al otro como a nosotros mismos. Es esta forma de pensar la que nos lleva a obviar el sufrimiento de nuestros hermanos día tras día, y molestarnos cuando el mundo nos deja de poner atención y vernos como víctimas por un momento. Somos como niños chillones y berrinchudos que quieren la atención del mundo. Nos molesta que la gente se solidarice con otros, porque no se solidarizan con el pobre y la corrupción en nuestro país. Pero, que estúpidos somos! No nos damos cuenta que esas son las herramientas del terror y la violencia! no nos damos cuenta que al menospreciar la muerte de unos por la de otros, o tratar de hacer nuestro sufrimiento más importante que el de otros nos convertimos en tan terroristas como quienes mataron a muchos en Francia, Líbano, y Bagdad.

Hoy día creemos que el sufrimiento nos pertenece. Pensar que es malo dolerse con las tragedias internacionales es dejar de poner atención a nuestra tragedias diarias. Este tipo de actitud sólo muestra que tenemos una perspectiva de escasez en la que sólo nosotros merecemos conmiseración y lástima. Lo que veo en Facebook hoy me muestra qué tan profundo es el síndrome de víctima que tenemos en Guatemala. Somos tan auto-victimizantes que tenemos una deformación pesimista de la realidad en la que nos emapalagamos y regordeamos en la auto-lastima que tenemos, quedando incapacitados para realizar cualquier tipo de auto-crítica, y fundamentando así una cultura de queja que nos lleva a creer que somos superiores a otros.

Así que, si no queremos sentirnos tristes o dolidos por la realidad humana de un mundo que clama por redención, no nos demos ínfulas de moralidad superior re-victimizando a nuestro país cuando tampoco estamos dispuestos a actuar para cambiar nuestra pequeña, pero bella Guatemala!

Theological Formation For Today

IMG_3073Last week I was invited to participate in a consultation in Theological Formation for the Peace of the City. This event was hosted by City Seminary of New York, coordinated by INFEMIT, with the attendance of people from around the Globe. We took some time to write and share our ideas in regards of what theological formation needs to be today. We all agreed that theological formation is key to leadership development, and that’s why I decided I would share with you what I think the objectives of theological formation should be in my City, Guatemala City. Continue reading

Engaging the City Incarnationally

IIMG_2792n the last few years I have had the opportunity to enter into a global conversation. I have sat around with leaders from different countries, and continents. This group of friends is what we call The Urban Training Collaborative, which is a group of training hubs in different cities around the world. As we sit together, around a table where nobody is greater than one another, we have come to ask one question. How do we engage our city in a way that brings transformation? At the beginning, the answer to this question didn’t come up as easy as we thought it would. It took us hours, months, even years of staying in conversation with each other to arrive to the conclusions we have found in the last few years. This process has helped us realize we have “three ways of doing.” Continue reading

On Contextual Leadership

IMG_2765One of the things that used to frustrate me the most is the number of step-by-step How-to-be a good/great leader literature that circulates out there. And why is it frustrating? because I have never been able to find a step-by-step replicable leadership style, program, or process. This frustration, however, was what motivated me to embark on a journey through as much of the leadership taxonomy I could research. To my surprise, everything I found had to do with examples of great leaders from around the world who apparently had nothing in common. I read from John Maxwell, to Mohandas Ganhdi, to Nelson Mandela, to Steve Jobs, to Mother Teresa, to Bill Gates, and there was no apparent connection on what made them great leaders, or what made their leadership so influential.

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On Relational Leadership

IMG_2570Relational leadership is a relatively recent term in leadership literature. For that reason, I think it is important to take some time to explore not only the meaning of such a term, but also the implications of its understanding. The idea that I have found the most helpful is the one presented by Komives, Lucas, and McMahon in “The relational leadership model.” For the authors, leadership is more than a theory, it’s a philosophy on how we engage and relate with people to provoke change. Thereby, relational leadership becomes a framework that reflects how the organization’s or community’s purpose influences the ideas of being inclusive, empowering and ethical. In other words, relational leadership includes others by empowering them to use their gifts in order to bring change that benefits and transforms their community, organization, or environment for the common good.

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The Power of The Scapegoat

In the last post I explored the power of mob violence, and the importance of desire as a way of understanding conflict. This time, I have another example of the power of violence that gets spread through a mob. In a little town called Tacaná, in Guatemala, a group of people accused a woman of witchcraft, and attributed her the different calamities that were happening in this little town. Again, a group of individuals started to imitate each other in rivalry and turned to this woman to satiate their thirst for blood. Once more, a woman was killed, and the tension of this small community relaxed.

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