Serving in Community
Public service is rarely a solitary endeavor. There may be times when you undertake some individual piece of analysis or reflection, but for the most part service to bring about change involves working with and through other people. As that overused slogan “Think globally, act locally” conveys, when you work with people directly it happens in the context of a distinct subset of individuals or social groups, which, for shorthand, is often referred to as a community.1 Working in community goes to the heart of working for change. As Najma Siddiqi (Profile 3) puts it, I don't think I have ever gone as a lone ranger. I don't think I can do that. If I'm interested in bringing about change in society, then I can't do it by myself. More specifically, she reflects on the origins of her path, working with women. I was interested in the situation of women, and how they were excluded from major policy decisions, personal decisions, societal decisions, and political roles. So how do you change that? You have to go back and see why that is happening. And you want to see how you can begin to bring about change there. You can't change it overnight. You can't, you know. You have to work with all kinds of people, you have to understand all kinds of interests, and you have to start working from there.
Working for change requires working with others. In the previous chapter, we encouraged you to develop self-awareness, including reflection on what development means to you. Having done so, you may feel that now you've clarified your thinking and are ready to make your vision a reality through working with the community that your career choice at this particular moment puts you in contact with. You've got your skills, your idealism, your vision, and you're ready to get out there and make your chosen community a better place. So what's wrong with this picture?
As Najma Siddiqi's quote suggests, your understanding, goals, and vision are only one side of the equation. The people you want to work with have understandings, goals, and visions of their own, along with a