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Fear as Seen in INGOs

Fear. Such a complicated feeling …

It’s true that it is necessary sometimes, for that it can protect our lives. But it is also true that it can be a portrayal of pure selfishness and weakness, both of which are unlikable traits, undeniably. Fearing a bear and running for your life is great (if you are keen on living that is). Fearing voicing your opinion despite seeing/living injustice can rarely be great (don’t want to say never because who knows, but I guess it’s never great isn’t it?).

Unfortunately, the fear I want to talk about here is of the latter type. One that affects the afraid as much as it affects those around that person. And with fear topped with fear topped with fear topped with fear and then mixed with other sorts of fear, the whole mess becomes difficult to steer. Now compromise is necessary, don’t get me wrong, but there is a very thin line between fear (of confrontation for instance) and measured compromise. One similar to that between genius and madness (if there is a line there to start with).

In the world of INGOs, fear is a dominant factor in day to day work life. Despite variations in representation, “national” fear and “international” fear are both present. Or I should say extremely present. Despite all the differences and lack of intersections beyond belonging to the same species and having the same basic needs, there is magically one common factor that unifies nationals and internationals. Fear! Not sure whether this deserves a lolololeeeesh or لطم (hitting one’s own face or head, with hands, from grief).

Orientalism is a daily occurrence at INGOs. And as I said in a previous post, auto-orientalism is where the orientals orientalise themselves just like the orientalists do to them. Fear, clearly, plays a huge part of this practice. Fear of missing out, fear of not “belonging” to “the other” cool culture, fear of not being profiled as civilised and cultured, and of course the mother or father of all fears, the fear of no new contract and thus no income. (FYI-Salaries paid by INGOs are remarkably higher than most other sectors). I am not generalising, I am just talking about the majority.

On the other hand, and again I am not generalising but talking about the majority, the international fear, which normally has severe repercussions because it is generally practiced (yeah it can become a job too) on higher levels (the chosen people of the west come to our countries for managerial positions. They know more you know! Despite not knowing the language nor the culture. Let alone their lack of interest in the above of course). The international fear can affect employees and projects alike. For instance, if you are a manager of a team undergoing injustice, you would normally stand up for them in whatever way possible no? Apparently not. At the allegedly human focused INGOs (and many other places I am sure), the safest way to stand up with your team is by utilising the verbal diarrhoea method (it is smelly too, especially after discovering the trick), which can also be called the empty rhetoric method. Nothing is to be documented, nothing is to be spelled out clearly and in writing. Nothing is to be said bluntly. Astaghfarullaaaaaah haraaaaam!  Everything is to be detoured and neutralised until it loses direction and meaning. Why? It’s fear again. Fear of failure, fear of God forbid losing the prestigious alcohol filled “managerial” position (which rarely consists of management), fear of having to search for a new job, fear of moving (again), fear of losing a salary that one would have never dreamt of “back home”.

Not sure how to end this entry … maybe I should thank fear for being a unifying factor at such divided workplaces. Maybe I should thank money for uncovering the very humane humanitarians. Maybe I shouldn’t thank anything. Or maybe I should thank an ex colleague back in the days when I worked at a field that has nothing to do with INGOs … ما بيقطع الراس الا اللي ركّبه … او بمعنى اخر الرزقة من الله

Fear less, stand up to yourself more! What is meant to be is meant to be.