A little while back there was a misunderstanding in a country about a 15 hour plane ride from my home in Edmonton.  The organization I work with places personnel there to assist the people to thrive organizationally, economically, personally and spiritually.  We aren’t the only ones placing people.  Our sister organization from the United States also places people.  Together we form an expatriate team which is supposed to serve the needs of the local situation.  But tensions had arisen between the team members and the locals.  My counterpart from the US had visited to try and bring peace to the situation but it continued to fester.  Finally, a call came to us–“send us the Canadian…”.

So, I travelled there and spent close to a week listening to people.  I met with all kinds of people and heard all kinds of stories.  I heard all kinds of opinions and all kinds of solutions.  At the end of the time, I suggested to the people there that I had heard so much that I needed time to untangle it all.  They nodded with an understanding look in their eyes.  I had heard a lot!

So I went home and pondered.  I didn’t respond right away.  I took a couple of weeks and I even took the liberty to consult a few people in my network here in Canada.  Complex issues can be made  simple but I wanted the simplicity that comes as C.S.Lewis says, “on the far side of complexity”.

Finally, I sent them a couple of paragraphs describing what I had seen, what I had heard, and what I had thought might be a way through their situation.  A key component in my report was to respect the dignity of all.  I deeply believe that each of the participants was a human with a keen mind, and a strong heart, and a deep passion for progress.

Interestingly, they received my report and 6 months later the situation that had been so tense melted and “resolved itself”.  Was my piece helpful?  I don’t know.

By the way, the line above that titles this piece is a quote from the invitation.  The people on the ground said “send us the Canadian, at least he listens”.   Hmmm.

If you are reading this and you are a Canadian, I hope this makes you feel proud.  As holders of Canadian passports we have a unique reputation around the world.  Let’s not besmirch it.  Let’s keep it going.