Magazine article Compass: A Jesuit Journal

Armed with Flip Charts and Markers

Magazine article Compass: A Jesuit Journal

Armed with Flip Charts and Markers

Article excerpt

The fastest growing industry in Jamaica is security. Business is booming in building grills and locks, breeding guard dogs and providing night watchman services. The next fastest growing industry, I am convinced, is facilitation: animation, rapportage, human resource consultancy and various other instances of intervention into dysfunctional institutions. Jamaica does not intend to be left out of the benefits of group process, which North America has enjoyed for so long.

Jamaica's fastest growing industries are not so different from each other as they might seem at first glance. Neither is a very productive use of economic resources. Both involve throwing up defences against the looming social chaos that results from the loss of common values and a morality of commitment. And both result in considerable personal inconvenience: laboriously going through four padlocks and one locked door, as I do every morning, and sitting through a small group session to share my feelings about the vision statement rate about equally on my scale of personal enjoyment.

Everybody seems to want vision statements these days. For several years I was chaplain at a Canadian university, where the Student Services Division, after long hours of meetings, came up with a vision statement based on the "wellness model." Student Services were to promote wellness on every level of the students' beings. My own mission was spiritual wellness. I never really subscribed to this vision statement, given infralapsarian condition of spiritual diseasedness.

I have walked into hospitals and seen vision statements, apparently designed to fit a five-by-eight-inch frame, posted on the wall. I have had modest editorial input into the efforts of charitable organizations to arrive at vision statements. And I have sat through what feels like an eternity of meetings of religious communities in search of a vision, out of which succinct and moving statement will flow a great river of goals, objectives and programs. As Qoheleth noted, "Into the sea all rivers flow, but the sea is never full."

If such modestly stated institutional aims as Feed the Hungry, Heal the Sick, Teach the Ignorant or Love Your Neighbour are insufficient to give a visceral sense of purpose and unity to an institution of service, what can a neological collection of earnestly phrased objectives do? …

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