Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Facing Issues Without Specialists

Suicide prevention is a topic of great concern to Korean society. And the "Heart and One Body Movement"  of the Seoul diocese has been in the forefront in addressing this urgent issue. As reported in the Peace Weekly, the Heart and One Body Movement is using the principles of Harrison Owen's Open Space Technology to structure their programs, as they did recently in discussions with members of the Legion of Mary.

In one of the first meetings, with more than 50 attending, several suggestions were made, including the need for more education on how to prevent suicides, for more study rooms for children of parents who have to work to support the family, and for children of divorced parents, or wherever conditions exist that lead to neglected children.

The Religious Sister who heads the center for suicide prevention has begun a forum  according to Owen's Open Space principles, which include abandoning the established framework and formalities for such meetings, proceeding without specialists, with an open  forum where a variety of ideas can be expressed as the need dictates, involving issues not easily solved, having high potential for conflict, and requiring an urgent issue--all of which are helpful in motivating the participants.

Sponsored by the One Mind and One Heart Movement the topic at a recent meeting was "What can we do to make our communities secure  from the problems associated with suicide?" The discussion was heated and the following were some of the suggestions offered.

*Why does a person commit suicide?  *Why does a person become lonely? *How can we read the hearts of those who are lonely? *How do we approach a person who is suffering from depression? *How do we go about saying a caring word to those who are lonely? *How do we go about being helpful to those who are lonely? *How to we show love to those who are having difficulty? *How are we to look after children who are neglected? *Should we gather children of the same age into groups?

Using open space technology principles, all participants in the forum were seen to take a lively interest in the discussion, with each participant deciding on some plan of action.  It is not the kind of program that attempts to fill a person's head with knowledge but instead attempts to find within one's self the answers to urgent issues. By hearing a variety of answers that come from personal experience, we are more likely to have a better understanding of what we are capable of achieving in the future.

The climate for the discussions was prepared without specialists with the experience and knowledge of the participants that was consistent with their religious faith. The group was not in any way impeded from coming up with resolutions that were doable, energizing the group to work toward these goals in the future.

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