Tree of Eden

Social work disillusioned

Posted in My writings, Uncategorized by T.Salami on January 19, 2010

I spoke with two social worker friends today. Their disillusionment with their occupation and the system was on the verge of life threatening.

I say life threatening with the perspective that people adopt cognitive approaches to real occurrences. Simply put, I believe that each human has formula(s) through which they interact with, account for or explain the life events they meet or don’t meet. The more common examples of these paradigms are the idealism and pessimism. In our foolishness we adopt or internalize particular paradigms as defining us. Yet unknown to us our instances that challenge our assumed paradigms; challenges which when we come across can have a devastating effect that borders on life threatening.

Lets look at what happened today. Two social worker friends whom I should mention are in the process of completing their masters degrees- lamented about the occupations. The general gist was that they are cynical about the work they do. They don’t think they are helping much. They’ve seen so many people fall repeatedly through the cracks in the system that it’s no longer for them that they help people to not fall through the cracks rather having people fall through the cracks becomes the norm.

This to me was a border line life threatening situation.

I might easily be described by the term ‘optimist’ or ‘idealist’ or by any other labels for those who tend to take a more benign view of the world- would just as well be an proper term for me. Yet I am not naïve. I do have my streaks of pessimism where cynicism runs my day and when I see human actions through the prism of purely selfish self-interest. However I can limit these streaks of pessimism to certain contexts for example: international relations or politics. For when addressing issues in these fields my cynicism runs deep like the still water.

Social work was never one of those fields that I had riddled with pessimism however. It had always been a field that I thought had the champions i.e. those who tried to ‘save’ or ‘help others’. And as loaded as these terms might be and whether or not selfish motivations motivated social workers, I have tended to associate social work with a wish to help people and by extension to associate those in the field with an optimism that struggles incessantly against the odds.

This I discovered is not the case.

Yet I do not want to diminish in any way the efforts of my friends who try to aid those in need. But their frustration with the system, their failed cases left me social work disillusioned – in the interim at least.

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