Mon Nov 20th, 2006 at 11:31:44 AM EST
Okay, this might be a bit of a rude entry, and you can say I am not entirely entitled to write this. I am not a "regular". I poke my nose in here when I get a chance, and I am certainly not as productive and as involved as I could be. I would like to be more than just a lurker. However, when I do write, I feel quite a pressure to produce something of some sort of quality that I don't have be ashamed of in front of people of ET calibre...this being mostly very educated, often very accomplished, and socio-politically very conscious group of individuals. ET is not an ordinary blog site and it's a good thing. The quality and scope of material discussed is excellent. You don't come with crap to ET, and you don't leave with crap. People are in general temperate with their comments and mostly very supportive. You come to learn, to grow, not to spew hatred. I have not seen any insults so far, and no derogatory or "primitive" comments, even when discussing very controversial subjects. (I used to participate in a discussion on a few newspaper websites and was appalled at the amount of profanity people freely showered others with at the slightest provocation). That means ETers are committed to getting along in a civil manner, to holding a true dialogue. ET definitely has standards, and anyone who doesn't behave won't stick around for very long.
I do question the intention of diary contributions, though. It is possible that, besides sharing our ideas with others and widening the pool of ET knowledge, it has to do with a little ego massage? You write something, and then you get replies. The more positive replies from smart people you get, the better you feel about yourself. You become addicted to the "refresh" button. What did they say? Did I do well? But is validation from others ultimately the only reason why we contribute? Or do we write and share our opinions, wisdom, expertise and whatever skills we have in a hope that it might do someone, somewhere, somehow, some good?
I would like to ask what the true, real purpose - or goal -- of ET is. What was it at the beginning, and what is it now? Has it evolved in any way? What is the next step? This website has attracted some incredible individuals. People who are upset with the present state of things, and who actually have the means to bring upon some changes. Can ET try to pool together all the smarts and knowledge to make something real, tangible happen? Even a small project that would have some local impact would be great. Or should we be happy with a once-in-a-while meet-up in Paris or London?
Recently I had the opportunity to interpret for a Peruvian lady called Albina Ruiz, who started what turned out to be the most successful recycling program in her country. She is "the" recycling person in Peru. She even made recycling legal there! And brought business to hundreds of people. In fact, her model was so successful that other Latin American countries want to copy her. The event was hosted by her sponsor called Ashoka, which is an organization dedicated to help activists of any kind who have established their idea could work. They are paid a salary to be able to pursue their plan, and are given an allowance and counselling along the way to help them bring their project to life. With their help, Albina was able to turn her idea into a national enterprise. Simply amazing. As I sat there listening to everyone, I thought to myself: why not ET? A place so full of brilliant individuals that are able to see the "big picture?" There is brain-power to stop a train here. What are we going to do with it?