Articles

Chronicles and Viewpoints – On ‘professionals’ as a brand  (28-04-2007)

Increasingly over the past several years, mention is made of ‘professionals’ versus us all, ‘amateurs’… It appears in numerous reports, resumes and formal communications. ‘Professionals’ are to be invited, attracted, welcomed, made use of, I suppose to complement, assist or compensate for our idiotic clumsiness… ‘Professionals’ are considered as efficient realists, implying that we are severely handicapped by a sort of composite self-deluded idealism.

In turn, ‘professionals’, when they do arrive in our midst, usually make it a point to salute our remarkable achievements – remarkable, I suppose, for such a mix of fevered amateurs. This perhaps makes for interesting interaction.
But, as if in its own shadow, the usage of this notion has bred a sort of value-judgment which, if left unchecked and unexamined, will rapidly become self-defeating.

A striking example appeared recently. In its written report and presentation here, a team introduced its proposed members in a fashion that would never have occurred as relevant in the past: each name was heading a list of professional qualifications, diplomas, honors, awards, degrees, to the extent that it did not seem to matter at all anymore whether or not they were Aurovilians.
What mattered was that they were ‘professionals’, such heavy-duty professionals in fact, that the rest of us would be floored into grateful submission.
(Part of the above was censored by the editors of ‘News and Notes’, in order to avoid a political storm; the original read as follows: “… and presentation in the ‘News and Notes’, the ‘Vision 2012’ team introduced the proposed members of the proposed ‘Auroville’s Future’ team in a fashion…”)

But who are the rest of us? A very mixed bag indeed! Some may have, passing through the big, big world, defined themselves, or let themselves be defined by ‘this’ or ‘that’. Others may have just had time to pick up a little degree, a couple of bland certificates, an accolade or two. Still others may have blundered into Auroville as newborns, or just as – then – immature or premature misfits of one sort or another…

But the thing with Auroville was that until not so long ago, it did not matter. It was irrelevant, in the sense that it could not serve as a basis for one’s choices on the path ahead.
What we were here to do was to cultivate inner values, soul values and, in their light, re-assess and explore and become and open and grow and integrate, and develop our receptivity to the future the earth needs.

Yet today we are asked to opine to the formation of a team of leaders intent on determining the overall development of Auroville, on the basis of external values and achievements…
Is not that the sign of a very major shift in our collective perception of our purpose here? Is not this akin to a declaration of loss, defeat, confusion? Are we not saying thus that we may have failed in our cultivation, or poisoned the crop, or missed the harvest of these other, deeper terms of appreciation, mutuality, recognition, respect, complementarity, receptive and inspired action, illumined service?

What are we really saying to ourselves and to the world today, as regards the validity and relevance of Auroville?

Divakar.”


I received no written feed-back on this note; but some of the school staff took the matter up in the form of a complaint, saying they had trouble justifying our collective choice of not aiming at examinations and degrees, when this talk of ‘professionalism’ was becoming so dominant.
A few people said ‘thank you’ to me; one sent me a ‘thank you’ through my brother. Someone else wrote to Deepti, convinced that she had written this note under my name, as I could not possibly, according to him, be fluent in English language and capable of such thinking… we did have a good laugh at that!