I am no longer COMMITTED! Last week I resigned from my position of Education Program Director at Community Members Interested (COMMITTED).
I had a number of reasons for doing so but NONE had anything to do with any issue with the organization, as you can tell from a paragraph of my resignation letter reproduced below.
As a matter of fact, my opinion of COMMITTED and my friend Jayjeev as a social worker devoted to the progress and development of the communities they work with, and therefore that of the society and the country in general, have not changed one bit since I decided to work with him five years ago.
Here’s the main reason for leaving.
The disillusionment set in about two years ago following my return to Nepal after thirteen months in the US., tweeting about it in January 2017. The country had suffered from the biggest natural calamity in living memory the year before and yet, those in the country entrusted with rehabilitating and alleviating the pain and suffering of the victims, appeared to have done not only very little (click here and here for more), they had been insidious — they took advantage of the situation to fast-track the constitution. As if that hadn’t been enough, they — the State and its security apparatus — violently suppressed uprising and protests in the Southern Plains against the constitution. During the economic embargo imposed by India, in response to the violence in the south, they had fomented dissent and pitted different people of the country against one another! And that had been just the beginning.
Little by little, as those in positions of power sold and/or peddled the pain and suffering of my fellow citizens while doing little, my discomfort with it grew and has reached such a level that I am unable to justify, to myself, continue doing it. Besides, for a number of reasons, I have felt for a while that I haven’t been very successful with my work anyway. The “return” to the work I have done do NOT seem to be commensurate with the time, effort and energy I have invested in it. At least that’s been my sense. Additionally, I have also borne an opportunity cost.
Worse, for some time, I have struggled to find meaning in my work, struggling as I have been to cope with the fallout from the traumatic experience of the twelve-day incarceration in the Qatari jail five years ago. I had returned to Nepal to change, to “help others”, and to work on social justice issues close to my heart with others in the country to sow a seed or two of change in our society for an improved and much more progressive future society. I had believed all that would be meaningful and fulfilling. I have for some time questioned that a lot however, plagued as I am by the sense — informed and shaped by the traumatic Qatari experience — that no matter what and how much I do, they’ll never be enough or good enough.
While personally I have changed and transformed in important ways — I have learnt a great deal about our society, our education system, about parenting etc., all of which have opened my eyes — I am not sure I have positively influenced a significant number of people in the country or any significant number of Nepalis. Most importantly, for a while now, I have questioned if “helping others” is even what I should be doing, having always believed that what one does in life must be for oneself, not in a selfish way, of course!
Along with this, I am also calling quits to my activism work. Being an activist, though it hasn’t included a whole lot, I have lost more friends and made more “enemies” than make new friends. The chances of my making a positive difference continuing to be one, I have decided, is next to zero.
The other reason is ethical.
To be sure, those details of soul-searching and issues are only part of the story of the very involved and extended process of deliberation.
Anyway, the important question now is, “What do I do next?” After fifteen-plus years of teaching science internationally and five of being a social worker, what next? I am not sure yet.
I know what I would love to do: raise a family! But that’s not going to happen any time soon given how I have not found someone to do that with! And no, I have never been — and still am not — interested in doing it on my own!
Regardless, life is too short and precious to continue doing something you are not passionate about and don’t believe in.