Thursday, 30 June 2011

What's an Oxygen Thief?

Community workers with the oxygen thief style are nice, bleeding-hearted
people who are generally liked by all. They try to be popular and good cops. However
because they want to be politically correct and self-preserving, they don’t stick out
their necks to fight for change. They perceive the empowerment process as being
friendly, huggable, listening, participative and enquiring. In keeping peace and
loving his neighbour (who might also be disempowering himself and many others)
he feels safer than when engaging in the perceived volatile world of a change agent.
The oxygen thief is very keen on doing things FOR their clients, because it is
the quickest way and the way of least resistance. It’s easier for them to just feed
the poor. Oxygen thieves take up space and resources in community development
projects, because they achieve nothing more than a self-esteem boost for being the
good guy and the giver, instead of producing real change in those who need it. The
oxygen thief is characterised by a general indifference and un-opinionated stance
on empowerment, since taking a stance and applying tough-love will lead to conflict
with which they cannot deal. Just as much as an overprotective nice mother raises
spoilt-brat “monsters”, so does an oxygen thief.

All About the Victim Mentality

Victims are always substantiating or justifying why things are wrong and why
they cannot achieve outcomes. They blame their limited resources, too much work,
too little time or overly demanding clients. They play the blame game rather than
taking responsibility for their role in keeping their clients dependent. Victims blame
external circumstances for the failure of their intervention, for example: “It’s because
I work for the government and they have no money that I can’t do my work properly.”
Community workers with this mentality fail to see the range of available alternatives
and resources. Sometimes victims simply play the blame game and are not interested
in solutions. Remember, however that certain victims simply don’t have solutions or
“know-how” and after a long period of frustration they just give up all hope of finding
tools that would work. At this point negativity sets in and the victim starts shifting
blame instead of taking responsibility.

The victim is an excellent role for community workers to play to hide their own
shame, inadequacies, frustration or hurt. Complaining is used to justify failure and
becomes a placebo that soothes them into feeling better. However, it comes with the
cost of being further bitten, dominated and stripped of the power to take charge of
the situation.

Book Review: Dependency to Dignity - The A2B for Community Development

Read the review on Dependency to Dignity - The A2B for Community Development. (See its link under "Pages") The book has thrown down the gauntlet and is challenging all professionals, social workers, therapists, community workers, socio-economical developers, NGOs, NPOs CBOs, small business owners, business managers, corporate conglomerates and the government to break the chains that are dragging South Africa and her people down a vast black hole of disempowerment. 

The book is currently in production and ought to be available within a few weeks. Send us an e-mail if you are interested in ordering it and we will inform you when it has arrived.


What do you think of this picture? Well, we have some more controversy up our sleeve. 

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