Listening to David Cayley on CBC radio brought something of my own past to mind. A moment on the web brought me to The Centre for Restorative Justice at Simon Fraser University, where I so much wanted to do media studies in 1978. (I was trying to find a way of staying in Vancouver to study shakuhachi.)
Caley spoke about Illich's view of development work and how it was paradoxically counter-productive ... (an insight I had decades ago, one which has hobbled me). He recounted how, having returned from two years of field work in Borneo, he talked with Illich and sought his advice. "Stay home!" was Illich's response (echoing Freire's profound view.)
My metanoia took place with the help of a young man from Namibia. The Free Southern Africa Committee had sponsored a theatre group from the University of Dar Es Salaam to tour Canada. As a theatre person I worked with them when they were here. In conversation with one of the cast I discovered that he was, in fact, a member of SWAPO. I immediately asked him what I could do to help, concretely ... did they need my expertise in communications? supplies like ball-point pens and wrist-watches? What could I do? His reply, "Stay here. Stay at home and get your government off my people's backs."
You see ... that's the foundation of democracy, of civility, of community ... of spirituality: eschew the institutional; be human to one another. That's what we're called upon to do; the rest is an excercise in solidification of ego.