Last week was quite the physical and mental journey for us Eggers.
I attended a meeting of DC colleagues to talk about developing a plan for “Ending Childhood Hunger in
I’ve got to tell you….I hate this approach—the division of people by age, gender, disease, need—as “caste systems” like this only divides the effort and weakens the fight, no matter how earnest the ideals or ‘deserving” the client/cause. More to the point, I find these kind of efforts to be pretty much intellectually shallow (and this from a guy who ran nightclubs instead of going to college), fundraising ploys. But I am NOT writing to fuss, but to talk about the need to listen.
All that I just said—I believe. But I also believe that you have to maintain an open mind, a willingness to participate and a commitment to challenging yourself. I’m pretty confident in my strategy, but I’d be a GD fool to think it’s the ONLY way.
Let’s look at this from another angle…and one that’s closer to home. I’m trying to drum up interest and support for the idea of a Nonprofit Congress. It’s a BOLD idea, to be sure, and it has LOTS of folks buzzing—both pro and con, and last week my partner Audrey Alvarado and I hosted a meeting to talk with nonprofit leaders about what it might look like. It was a great gathering, but a few folks came there and just sat, stoically, trying to infer non-commitment via silence. (A side note—NEVER be silent if you’ve got a bone to pick, as it conveys approval). Anyway…I didn’t want to be like that.
As I sat in this first meeting, I was tempted, when I heard ideas that I thought were dim, to make some sort of physical move that would demonstrate my feelings, but that’s NOT the way I want to behave when another person is trying their best to make something happen. If I’m going to come to a meeting, it’s going to be to help, to participate, or to be honest in stating my beliefs…not to sit in judgment or act superior.
So…I signed up for a committee, and will try my darndest to be part of the discussion. I’ll ALWAYS sign up to be part of the discussion. And with that comes an implied commitment to participate and to put aside my beliefs and try to honestly listen—to hear their point of view and weight things on their scale. It’s hard….but when you’ve got as many opinions as I, you better be committed to honing them to a point, so you can make a point that sticks.
And I had a lot of time to think about that, as I went under the knife for some oft put off oral surgery. Interestingly enough, my Dad was having bypass surgery at the exact same time. He was all the way out, while I was just looped up with Novocain, and lots of it. But while I sat and watched Dr. Kung rip into my mouth, I thought about my Dad, and the kind of man he is. I get a lot of my ideas and ideals from him, and I am humbled to be his son. Like all men, he’s had his ups and downs…and I think he looked for more than he thinks he’s achieved in his turn of the wheel…but I’ll tell you what, he raised kids that think, and participate and wonder and fight and don’t sit by while the prize whizzes by. They grab for it.
He came out of his surgery with flying colors—as did I. Between my smile and his new ticker, the Egger Men are back, and we’re coming. We’re willing to listen, but we’re ready to rock. Are you?