1. I am super safe (I realize the back-to-back posts of political protesting and death might convey a certain mood of danger + sad)
2. I am super happy
And now to transition to the creators of the greatest superhero movie ever... who doesn't love PIXAR? (This will all come full circle I promise). PIXAR seems to have this magical formula for tugging at your heartstrings... a secret code to unlock those smiles you reserve for small children and adorable puppies. I've seen grown men cry watching UP; sophisticated, too-cool-for-school Ive Leaguers cheer when Woody and his toy friends escape the clutches of an evil stuffed purple bear. 'Tis a gift - a unique ability to convey universal truths and cliches through an entirely new lens so it is both familiar yet impossible to dismiss.
I have always been able to pinpoint from afar why this or that development project didn't work... it's that organization's fault (Thunderhead was not the brightest bulb), with the assumption that surely I could have done it better. But what if I'm not a Superhero? What if the world doesn't need more Superheroes? More than anything, our work at Cristosal demands the ability for community members to give honest (tough-love type honest) feedback - when we are serving their needs, and especially when we're not.
And the tough part about being a Superhero is generally you're some kind of extraterrestrial freak coming to a world where you don't belong. That's why the movies work... Superman didn't have to conduct community diagnostics, Batman didn't do interviews with the women's association. Generally they were antisocial weirdos with a penchant for blowing stuff up, which sucks for the people in the movie, but it's great for those who bought the ticket.
At my current job (aka the Noah Bullock school of graduate development studies/nerd heaven) the major problemo is that most NGO's and aid orgs are first and foremost accountable to donors (aka movie goers), with no tried and true mechanisms for the marginalized communities they serve to provide feedback. Unlike markets or democracies, which measure effectiveness through dollars or votes received, the very nature of serving marginalized communities depends on finding a new feedback mechanism since the people you're working with often lack the money or political voice to demand good governance (hence marginalized).
I think it's about time I put my cape away. It doesn't work. Instead I have to find that uncomfortable balance between being a foreigner, just accepting, shutting up and listening, but also finding where my skill set can be of service. It's not a swoop-in-and-save-the-day-job, it's a slog-through-day-by-day-until-you-find-your-niche job. After all, the designers of PIXAR are successful for a reason. They know their audience. And we don't even know who they are - everyone has left the theater by the time those names roll across the screen. And I think that's what I resist most - the possibility that one day I'm not going to be famous, I won't be one of Time's 100 Most Influential People. For the first time, I'm realizing saving the world and making a difference are two very different things.
"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost."
- Arthur Ashe