Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Little Lessons on Accountability

Oh the things that inspires us to blog…

I often find myself itching to document my day at work because it’s just so dang entertaining. While most of my stories revolve around those that utilize the EM services, today, I am urged to communicate a different type story/challenge.

It all started when I walked over to the Men’s Social Service office, where my good friend/co-worker Jeffrey Tennant is stationed. As I do upon most greetings, I managed to regurgitate all of the morning’s events (you know normal stuff, like investigating who is defecating in the shower, conducting 7 drug tests while attempting not to spill urine on myself, and praying that we have enough beds to house all the needs for the night).

Jeffrey patiently listens, but often has his own set of issues. We listen to each other. Quinton “Q” Williams also joins us from time to time.

I can’t quite remember the context of the conversation, but Jeffrey decided he would include me in on a previous debate between he and Q. You see we, at the Eugene Mission, aren’t really attached or too proud to change things. If something isn’t working, we tend to strategically figure out a new or better method.

Jeff’s suggestion: eliminate disallows (asking those who are not manageable to leave) and implement the “tickling policy.” The current dialogue and thoughts are why I am a fan and will support Jeffrey’s platform.

Jeff: “Q didn’t like my idea of creating a ‘tickling policy’ rather than disallow.”
Holleigh: “So you’re suggesting we tickle uncooperative and sometimes violent guests instead of disallowing them?”
Jeff: “yes, tickling is painful, my family used to hold me to the ground and tickle me.”
Q: (with a very sincere and almost distraught expression) “I don’t have enough people tickling me in my life.”

While this may just be an ordinary conversation, it represents so much more than what meets the eye. You see, I recall being tickled when I was young and it was painful. But through the pain and torture, I could not help but release an innate response of laughter.

In the context of this conversation, Jeffrey is suggesting that tickling be used for accountability.  While I’m not sure that tickling is the most appropriate technique to encourage accountability, it is obvious that accountability is absolutely necessary among the population we work alongside and to be perfectly honest, it is necessary for us. However, it’s important that we figure out a way to produce effective strategies to hold individuals accountable.

What I’ve noticed is that accountability requires genuineness and love and for some reason, we humans can’t seem to figure out how to give and receive accountability in a way that does not leave scars.

How to love each other so much that we want people to move away from things that aren’t producing anything positive in their lives.

The process of accountability is so tricky because it takes a delicate balancing act of love, support, and truth.

Which leads me to reflect on the correlation between being tickled and held accountable. The process doesn’t feel good but for some reason (unknown to me) our body responds with an instinct of a sort of freedom (uncontrollable laughter or bladder). It’s like you now have a reason to let loose, whether you want to or not. When we're tickled we cannot hold anything back, we laugh through the pain.

I can’t help but wonder if true, genuine accountability could produce similar results. If we loved each other so much that we confront somewhat painful topics head on, but find immediate freedom and joy when we aren’t trying so hard to hold it all together.

The most interesting thought in the midst of this conversation is Q’s response; “I don’t have enough people tickling me in my life.”

So my challenge is simply this:

Do you have people tickling you in your life?