While I had been critical of the way various "foundations" were manipulating other people's money, no other books had shown me the underlying problemWhile I had been critical of the way various "foundations" were manipulating other people's money, no other books had shown me the underlying problem as clearly as this one. I suspect that there are many people who are uncomfortable with the content of the book as it challenges the comfort and status quo even of many progressives, esp. with those with "privileges". But until we are ready to accept such a challenge, we will not be able to change the tide.
I think that the following four paragraphs from the book summarize the author's point very well:
"The savior mentality means that you want to help others but are not open to guidance from those you want to help. Saviors fundamentally believe they are better than the people they are rescuing. Saviors want to support the struggle of communities that are not their own, but they believe they must remain in charge. The saviors always wants to lead, never to follow. When the people they have chosen to rescue tell them they are not helping, they think those people are mistaken. It is almost taken as evidence that they need more help.
The savior mentality is not about individual failings. It is the logical result of a racist, colonialist, capitalist, heteropatriachal system setting us against each other. And being a savior is not a fixed identity. Under the struggle to survive within capitalism, most of us are forced into decisions that contradict our ideals. Many people are involved in liberation movements in their free time while their day job is at a charity or other nonprofit that does not challenge the status quo. We can be a savior one day and an ally the next.
The savior mentality always looks for solutions by working within our current system, because deeper change might push us out of the picture. This focus on quick fixes is also partly a product of an outrage-oriented media. We pay attention to an issue for one day, and we want to hear that someone will be fired or arrested. If that happens, we move on.
Saviors adopt trendy labels such as social entrepreneur or change agent. They preach the religion of kinder capitalism, the idea that you can get rich while also helping others, that the pursuit of profit, described with buzzwords like engagement, innovation, and sharing economy, will improve everyone's lives through efficiency. However, I stand with nineteenth-century novelist Honoré de Balzac, who wrote that behind every fortune is a concealed crime. I don't believe you can get rich while doing good--wealth and justice are mutually exclusive. The more wealth exists in the world, the less justice."
The author carefully explores several topics relevant to his point.
Although the majority of people initially supported the War on Terror without really understanding the underlying issues, I think many have realized the reality by now. This topics is touched upon at various points.
The majority of people still do not seem to understand what is really behind the War on Drugs. But more and more materials are showing up to expose the current issues and the source of the problem. This topics is also visited, but not in detail. But I had learned a lot from "Chasing the Scream," "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts," and "The Globalization of Addiction."
The book details more about the education issues after Hurricane Katrina, especially in connection to the problem with Teach for America, and War on Sex Trafficking. These are two areas I was not really aware of until reading this book.
The author singles out the saviorism mentality underlying all of these topics and discusses a more fruitful approach. I recommend this book highly. By the way, the book begins with a very appropriate forward by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, the author of "An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States," which is highly recommended as well....more
In this engaging and well-written book, Nielsen puts together the truly remarkable story of Anne Sullivan, despite the difficulty in finding certain kIn this engaging and well-written book, Nielsen puts together the truly remarkable story of Anne Sullivan, despite the difficulty in finding certain key materials. It was a timely reading for me as the 2017 Women's March was taking place in support of the lives of women and disadvantaged people. With all the limited resources she had, Anne Sullivan fiercely fought against powerful narcissists of her days and left a great legacy. Even today, though, we are shocked by the horrible reality in front of us. Unfortunately, we still need to continue the path she was on back then.
Some readers may be overwhelmed by exceedingly unfortunate experiences Anne Sullivan had to go through. For those who had similarly-cruel experiences, certain descriptions may trigger their own trauma (I hope that such readers may eventually be able to resolve their own issues). However, I still think that this is a story of unmistakably-positive accomplishments. And I think that the author delivered this point successfully.
The main aspects of the story that struck me the most are: Anne Sullivan's resilience, pedagogical creativity, and the mutual friendship between Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller. I think that the book covers these areas very well.
First, the book documents Anne Sullivan's life as an unfortunate demonstration of the impacts of Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE). Thanks to the recent, large-scale ACE studies, we now know more about the negative physical and mental impacts of childhood trauma (including household dysfunctions, abuse, and neglect). While the damage is often irreversible (as shown in this book), the movement called Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) squarely faces this issue and tries to improve the conditions of the affected people. There are a lot of research and newly-developed approaches in support of the movement (e.g., The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog, In an Unspoken Voice, The Body Keeps the Score, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts).
Second, the book presents Anne Sullivan's innovative educational approach developed through the interaction with Helen Keller. After establishing the basic trust with Helen, Anne tried to provide a natural context of learning a language as "normal" children would do. Instead of the then gold standard of Howe (to teach words in isolation), she finger-spelled a stream of complete sentences as if Helen is listening to other people's natural speech. The effectiveness of Anne's approach was clearly demonstrated by Helen's accomplishments. This kind of pragmatic approach can be seen in most of modern, progressive educational approaches (e.g., Instead of Education).
Unfortunately, the educational establishment of those days did not accept or appreciate Anne's approach. This must partly due to Anne's lack of credentials and her status as a woman with an impoverished upbringing, as well as her defiant style.
Actually, even today, the conventional education is more or less stuck in the obsolete, knowledge-transfer model. We need to re-examine why the conventional education is still failing and can learn from Anne's ideas.
But the main underlying theme is the love between Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller. It is obvious that toward the end of Anne's life, Helen wanted to spend her time for her own advancement. However, Helen stayed with and cared for Anne. This may have been partly due to Helen's felt obligation to Anne's complete support for Helen (earlier in their lives). But I am inclined to think that the both women supported each other mainly out of their own intrinsic motivations. That is, both of them must have been helping each other because the act of doing so itself must have been rewarding. That is nothing other than mutual love. We are in the age of extrinsic motivations: i.e., threatening with punishments of all sorts, abusing tangible rewards such as money and status (e.g., Punished By Rewards), and relying on unhealthy competitions (e.g., No Contest). Such extrinsic motivations will never be able to explain this valuable story of true love in this book....more