TRIGGER WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS CONTENT WHICH MAY BE DISTRESSING. This week someone I know killed themselves. I didn't know them well and I had no idea they were struggling with mental illness, so I am really quite shaken by it. Looking back, it explains some of their behaviour, but I didn't put one and two together. I hope I'll learn to recognise it in the future.
In a rather unusual text conversation, a friend and I were discussing suicide. I know, not a conversation you'd expect to have by text but hey, the upside is, I've got a record of it to paste into this post.
Helen Razer writes of her sense of hopelessness about the future over on The Daily Review citing, as causal examples, things like "the Global Citizens Festival, which attracted very positive international press, Sexy Celebs and a sell-out crowd of 60,000 ... an event that seeks to, and succeeds in, engaging young persons..." but which supports naïve UN Sustainability Goals — and the World Bank, which creates the poverty that the GCF purports to condemn.
Razer exemplifies nude selfie victim Jennifer Lawrence as another reason to lose hope, after the actress implied that pay inequity was a result of women not being tough enough with their bosses. Helen rightly points out that, without "J-Law's" privilege, toughing out their bosses would leave most women fired.
I share Helen's hopelessness for the future of humanity — a hopelessness without which, she muses, there can be no hope. Though a lot of my work involves promoting ways we can more constructively engage with one another, my reflection is that I feel a further burden: a wry sense of helplessness to impact on the world in any meaningful way.
I get a lot of people trying to help me. The less they know me the less helpful their help is. So it's useful and interesting to make the distinction between 'helping' and 'being helpful'. They are definitely not synonymous and are, so often, completely antithetical.
The most unhelpful help I am offered is getting my wheelchair in and out of my car. It's quite a complex operation — getting it in involves neutralising the wheels, clipping the winch to the footplate, winching it up the 45° ramp and securing it on its platform in the car. And getting it out involves the reverse.
The tyranny of leadership is the sense of knowing how to keep things going. To overcome barriers. To resolve conflict. To leverage influence. To make change.
When people die, all that goes out the window.
In the last three weeks, the daughter of a close friend and colleague lost her baby — and an alumnus of the Be. Leadership programme I co-direct passed away.