Where is the Line?


Shocked and appalled.

Shocked and appalled.

Classic words for when someone makes a joke and it's too far. Like, they crossed that proverbial line that nobody really knows what everybody 'kind of' knows what it is. 

For instance, we're joking about dictators and then someone says, "Yah, you're like totally Hitler's dream girl."

Too far. Consternation and exclamations ensue.

BUT. Maybe not. It really depends on the company. That's the problem with 'the line.' There really isn't one universal one, but a lot of people believe that their line is the universal line. So when you make a joke that's super funny and acceptable with your friends from the hood but then you make the same one with your white friends, all of a sudden it's just not okay. And not only is not okay, it's like super not okay you are wrong and insensitive and racist and terrible and YOU CROSSED THAT LINE. Heck, even by saying 'my friends from the hood' and 'white friends' I've probably crossed the line for somebody. Which may or may not have been my explicit intention.

All this to say, nobody really knows what the line is, but everybody thinks they know what the line is.

So, how does this connect with development? I mean is in the development section of this website so like what's the deal Nathan.

In my INDEV 602 class in fall term, my professor Larry Swatuk and the rest of my class talked about how development is often a term that's easily thrown about with work done overseas, while social work is the term thrown out for doing much of the same work, only locally.

Why do we make that line? Development is about economic, social, health and metrics being improved to meet a certain standard that society has set. Social work tries to do the same thing, perhaps with a greater focus on social good than on economic goods.

When I think more about it though, maybe 'the line' between the two is there to make us feel better about our own 'developed' country. I mean, obviously North America, Europe and the Western world is developed, and therefore, is in no need of development. Right? I mean, there's no possible way that development is necessary within our borders. Social work though, I mean, there's plenty of stuff out there that is need of some serious social working.

But overseas though, now THAT is the prime place for development. 

Language is a funny thing. People underestimate the power that words have in creating barriers, and also breaking them down. Now to be sure, there is nothing wrong with categorizing things, like what we've done with development and social work for instance. And to be sure, there are many differences between the two. But there is probably far more in common between the two than there is different. And really, the important question to have when defining and categorizing things is

Why do we draw the line there?

It's an important question that we should always ask, regardless of what discipline we're looking at, or what we're studying. It doesn't mean the line is bad, or that it shouldn't be there. I mean, there's a reason why we categorize things into this and that; it helps us simplify the world so that we can understand it better.

But it never hurts to question why, and if after questioning the line looks suspect, to change it. The world is dynamic and constantly changing, and our categorizing of things should often change as well.

Because we don't have it all figured out, and we should stop pretending like we do.