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Tear in the Matrix: Presencing Part 2

Read Part One

I guess you could say we reached a point in the Tuesday group where we had to choose the red pill or the blue pill (If you have seen the movie, you may remember when Morpheus offered Neo the red pill. If Neo chose the red pill and truth he was warned that he would never be able to retreat to the comfort of his current world and if Neo chose the blue pill he could go back ‘to sleep’ and the comfort of all that he knew and believed before.) Through the U Process we as a group chose the red pill. Many of us have experience with those “no turning back” lines of inquiry in our personal lives, “Is this the right job? Is this the right relationship for me? Do I want to have children?” It's something else altogether to engage in this type of deep questioning as a group!

We began to let go of our assumptions about the way things are, in this case, the way things are in our social systems as we work on HIV/AIDS. We began with the painful question of how the system had failed 4 girls who had been killed by their mentally ill mother. Their decaying corpses remained in the house with their mother undiscovered for over 6 months! Four girls disappeared from school and no one came to their house to find out why. The investigation sought to find the break in the system and people were fired. None of us felt that anything had been fixed by blaming a few individuals who did not have the clout to protect themselves, and that while we spoke, other children remained lost in the system and in peril.

We commiserated over fragmentation, fear, competition, and the extent to which our work was becoming an industry of despair that could only sustain itself by working on treatments instead of cures. We noticed that the current environment chips away at our hope, creativity, interdependence and shared sense of urgency. In the “presencing” work, we were supporting each other to see the tear in the matrix”, to ask ourselves honestly and courageously if collectively we are having the impact that is needed. The process has raised important questions for me about our impulses to rush towards solutions. Perhaps the real work of leadership in the nonprofit sector will require us, along with folks from other sectors, to find ways to hold the tension between urgency and a need to slow ourselves down enough to explore the actual impact of our current approaches and the source of breakthrough change.