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.

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