|The world survives thanks to the breath of innocent children. The Talmud The best contribution each community can make is giving milk to children. Winston Churchill |
|Prof.Dr. Stojan T. Tomikj|
THE FIRST CHILDREN’S EMBASSY IN THE WORLD - MEDJASHI
- Socio-political Dimensions and Aspects -
Don’t let children feel guilty
For being alive.
Man is helpless at the very beginning of his life; man does not decide whether he will be born or not; he does not decide who will give birth to him; of what race his parents will be; into what sort of world he will be born into - one plagued by poverty and war or one abounding in wealth and peace. This very reason: the heplessness of children, is conducive to dramatic and tragic conditions in which children make their very first steps in life - steps hampered by human misery or abundance. Thus due to circumstances beyond its oen reach one child may be crying, it may be sad, it may be starving, clad in tattered clothes and without shoes. Another child may be happy, joyous, playing and singing.
Social movements, institutions and organisations have thus tasked themselves with alleviating this 'injustice' by creating as similar as possible living conditions for children, throughout their early childhood at least. This is reflected in the objectives to provide education, food and drink, access to medical treatment, etc. These are also the aims of the 'First Children's Embassy in the World MEDJASHI' (henceforward: FCEWM). The FCEWM embarked on this journey without being aware of the importance od its significance and its weight, starting from scratch and striving to achieve its goals in at times hard conditions (and sometimes less than ideal condotions) but always with a great deal of imagination.
The FCEWM is like a child itself: it has taken its first insecure wee steps, moving slowly upwards to new levels and it has and will contunie to justify its existence. Those steps were and are based on many factors: the ideas coming together within this movement, their contemporaneity, the upholding of those ideas and their protection from different threats and from destruction. It was a priority for the FCEWM to avoid all traps, dangers and mistakes from the very first day on, in order to create a safe path for children to tread on, in order to shelter them from harm. The intention of the following text will be to examine how this has been done, it is not to preach about one movement.
An Unselfish Movement at a Time of Egoism
Humanistic social movements at the end of the 20th and beginning of 21st century have been emerging in very difficult times, epochs marked by selfishness and inequality, by a dichotomy of values and their deterioration, by philanthropy vs. Misanthropy, by solidairy encountering egoism, by justice clashing with injustice. All this requires the adequate localising of the FCEWM as a humanitarian project; the defining of the foundation for the aforesaid movement. In search of a solid human resource basis for the FCEWM two criteria have proven to be of quintessential proportions: an adequate paradgim of values and an adequate system of needs. It is necessary to standardise the conduct and actions of the FCEWM, and to protect it as something precious from all possible deviations and abuse. Except for philanthopy and solidarity (as two basic values) the FCEWM's pyramid of values should contain another element in its top - honour. Honour which will prevent possible misuse of funds. People making donations have a right to ask how humanitarian organisations are using these funds; they have a right to ask whether the donations will reach those in need, or whether they might disappear somewhere along the way.
Besides these values a humanitarian organisation of this sort should nurture such concepts as justice, equality, responsibility, modesty, etc. At the same time the incorporation of an adequate system of values should be matched by the outlining of one's conduct and believes tailored to the needs of children. The FCEWM embodies an instrument, a means to meet the needs of chiuldren all over the world. It does not represent an end in its own right; it does not have the task to cover unrequired costly travelling expenses, unjustifiably high pay, luxurious office furnishing and equipment, etc. All expenditures of the FCEWM and its Consulates should be estimated on basis of the amount necessary to sustain the vital functions of the network of organisations.
An elaborate system of values, which a variety of contents, should be woven into the the FCEWM. Ergo the latter is not only to execute its basic functions, but it will also address the subsequent needs of a contemporary, spiritual or other character.
It remains an undeniable truth that it is of principal importance to feed hungry children, to givem them shoes and clothes; to bestow freedom upon those who are not free - but it is just as important to fulfill other needs. This social movement should adhere to the synchronic principle and progress with time. All of the aforesaid leads to the conclusion that the system of needs as a basix orientation of the Embassy will be constantly reviewed, subjected to innovation and upgrading; that it will be 'humanised' in order to avoid the addressing of false, artificial or harmful objectives (e.g. the need for prestige, overly assertive competitiveness) both among adults and children. Man is to be an end to man, child is to be an end to child - and not a means. All this is countered by the craving for prestige.
Visualisation and Institutional / Legislational Solutions
The stages of its establishment, development and subsequent change (since the FCEWM is bound to change as it developes), and during the process of modernisation it will have have to be preceded by the visualisation of institutional and legislative solutions (from a theoretical but not ideological point of view). An inadequate network of insitutions usually damages a good idea, Caution is therefore to be employed upon securing that a selected structural, legal and institutional solution does not reduce and 'strip' the initial notional scope of the FCEWM.
The FCEWM as a movement - rather than as an institution - will need to address the following constitutive elements.
IDEA + INSTITUTION + LAW + SOCIAL ACTION * OUTCOMES
The notion to establish the FCEWM is not an utopistic idea, it is a concept outlined through an appropriate combination of institutions and organisations (The Embassy, its Consulates, its offices). These entities do possess their written regulations outlining their conduct in order to achieve the desired social activity/movement and outcomes. It is however known that not one single institution or collection of regulations is capable of expressing its wealth of ideas. Usually both prune and trim these ideas, they lead them astray, shelve them and place them in the 'institutional fridge,' All this is conducive to the reduction of possible outcomes i.e. to the discouraging of social action and huge efforts opposed by minimum results.
Idea No. 1: There are no 'big cities' and 'small backwaters' - there is only a backward way of thinking and acting
Our contemporary world, and all its technical, technological and scientific achievements, require the implementation of the above mentioned idea. The FCEWM has chosen to become the agent to achieve this, thus taking a current, a modern idea and locating and developing the same into a 'province' at the village of Medjashi in the Samberija region. This idea was then embraced by metropoles throughout the world: by New York, Paris, Tokyo, Belgrade, etc. Ergo one should protect this idea from being blemished by inadequate institutional solutions. This, however, does not imply that the upgrading and reinventing of thisconcept should remain restricted to the bounds of Medjashi. Iits key contents are to focus on this village, while its surroundings and even highly urban communities are to be involved in all this in an up-to-date manner. Thus one should be very careful upon transplanting (moving) certain social functions into cities. Thus the moving of the FCEWM from Medjashi to Sarajevo had its practical justification. As did the division of activities. This does not entail the partitioning of the core contents/objectives of the FCEWM. Its beauty and its appeal will surbive while the FCEWM succeeds in retaining its pastoral inspiration, its appropriate contents and locations - while avoiding to shun urban communities and entailed modernisation. One should however beware of imitations and pseudo-modernisation. In this context it should also be mentioned that the Samberija region is a typical rural social system - with many idiosyncratic traits and a substantial affinity towards innovation. As such it should be supported in these endeavours.
Idea No.2: Preserving Children's Beliefs and Children's Behaviour
The FCEWM is dedicated to children as regards its objectives and its purpose. It addresses the needds and interests of children, regardless of the fact that the FCEWM is being headed by adults. Is is therefore advisable to determine the ways of nurturing and protecting this concept- all in order to avoid being ensnared in narrow-minded patterns of thinking and acting. Children's problems should be addressed in a way typical of children. This requires a seroius but not an adult approach. All this implies the necessity of reviewing institutions, organisations, of meetings and events, of agreements and conventions. It also requires the reinventing of the decision-making process, the mobilising of new human resources and the overall mode of governance and conducting activities. This means that the input of children's psychologists, pedagogues, sociologists, pediatricians, et. should be welcomed. This is the only way to secure a scientific approach of child care insitutions, in a light and airy manner close to children.
Idea No. 3:on the three stages of a movement
The FCEWM will have to pass three inevitable stages of development and change as a social movement and an institution. The so-called stage of 'infancy', the stage of prime development and its critical stage. Due to this it seemds advisable to make sure that the initial stage and the subsequent peak development last as long as possible, in order to delay - if not avoid- the critical stage.
The first development stage emerges upon raising the question WHAT is to be done. This is the stage when objectives, purposes and intentions are being outlined, when answers to these questions need yet to be determined (including the approaches to be employed). At this stage the FCEWM is experiencing triumph, The second stage commences when the oragnisation is engaged devising approaches on HOW to achieve previously determined objectives; through what means and method; how to ensure that methods correspond to outlined objectives and how to prevent the engagement of illegal methods to compromise (noble) objectives (since the contrary would bring about a crisis within the movement). All this is conducive to the conclusion that the FCEWM as a movement should focus on WHAT has to be done and on the HOW this is to be achieved - an issue which will be largely transferred to science and stakeholders/FCEWM members; to their initiative and and imagination.
Goals of the Embassy could be unique (but also different), and the ways of realization of the goals alternative which will be best achieved by two forces- the mind (science) and the will (democracy), so the Embassy as a movement should be democratically and scientifically based. That is the only way for protection of the movement from the crisis if methods of realization, because a very neat organization on the segment how to act can affect negatively on the social actions.
The third stage is a critical one in the development of the movement and the institution. It begins at the moment when the movement starts to defend itself from outside and inside attacks, when it loses its zeal and more rear asks the question what is important to do and passes into defense and protection of its programs. If the movement is vital, it does not have a reason to protect itself, but to attack. It makes its new way by itself and widens the spaces for its acting.
IV idea: About the innovation nucleus and social weakness of the movement
Every movement maintains itself, develops, changes and modernizes with the help of so called innovation nucleus, which is being refreshed all the time. With the disappearance of the innovation nucleus or too long maintaining of the imitation instead of innovation (imitation presents innovation’s death), the movement is lead to social exhausting and tiredness, to a helpless condition. That is why there must exist new searches for fresh innovation nucleus, which can be quantified- it is meant that it is necessary to have around 30% of programs and activities changed and innovated. It will be a very big task- to innovate the content and forms every day. It can not be achieved by reorganization, but by new ideas, fresh needs and vital forms of acting.
V idea: About the choice and selection of the participants
A movement is successful when it does not have big, but selected basis of participants (which does not mean that we have to turn down the new participants). But more dangerous for every movement are unwanted participants, more than the lack of participants. The unwanted participants, with their deeds compromise the movement, change the basic aims, the meaning. The idea of Children’s Embassy can be used and misused (for profitable aims, for non-human goals, the unwanted participants can transfer the Embassy into an Institution for fulfillment of their own needs).
According to some scientific researches, a movement maintains in physical, but also in spiritual way, a very little percent of participants, around 3-5 % according to our researches, i.e. around 8% participants according to other researches, it fulfills 80 % of the movement. If these data are approximately true, than there is a need for careful selection of the participants, according to the principal “ Better less, but better” (e.g. big companies that offer a big financial help, but whose aims are not in accordance with the Embassy’s aims; whether to accept or to reject the political support of the Embassy and the movement, so to protect the movement out of unnecessary politicization- a minimum politicization is inevitable).
At the same time with the selection of the participants, it is necessary to have a human selection of those to whom the movement gives help, and all that with an aim to avoid every kind of discrimination, not to fall under domination of some kind of priority- for e.g. among the hungry ones to choose the hungriest. That is why it is necessary to choose certain values( as measure of acting ) and criteria about to whom to give, why the aid is given to one town and not to another etc.- questions that become more and more frequent.
It is well known that the more sensitive question than the one of giving, is the question of collecting aid.
The choice of the issues here is sudden, illustrative, but not overall. We had an intention to consider some of the general and than particular conditions necessary for the social Action of people gathered around the Embassy of the Children.
We did not talk about one very important topic- the leading of the Embassy, which is very complicated. The science can offer some solutions for the modernization of the management of the system and sub- system of the Embassy. It is very important constitutional element of every movement and it can be expected that some questions may arise, and also some problems in the given area( e.g. how to manage, how to introduce into the movement science and democracy, how to incorporate a great number of ideas, not to centralize the work of the Embassy, how to achieve each unit to have its autonomy, but also socialization, how to do some of the jobs in the Embassy, but to avoid the division of the functions.
Let us wish to the Embassy successful first children’s steps-only with making steps it can show and prove its existance.