Tuesday, November 20, 2012

still not danish enough

the interesting part of living in another country is that you can almost constantly play anthropologist. of course, the danger of playing anthropologist is that you never really fully let yourself be part of things. and when you forget to play anthropologist and you try to belong, you can get burned. but  the good news is that you can return to playing anthropologist. (and by you i mean me.) last evening, i managed to strike a good balance - being involved and then retreating to observing (and trying unsuccessfully to understand) the natives in their natural habitat.

i've come to realize that like any little town, this one is a real peyton place. it just takes awhile to work out all of the characters. and so far, really, the only real vices i've encountered are petty power struggles and conflicts of interest, not all that other peyton place stuff (tho' after some real painted piece of work cows women showed up at the concert a couple weeks back, i do suspect the other stuff exists as well, just not in my crowd).

so, last evening at a meeting i questioned the sequence of some emails regarding public funding of our little group's efforts, with some board members being copied in and asked for feedback earlier than others. in response, instead of an explanation,  i was given a rather pedagogic, fist pounding on the table, shrill lecture about how danes trust their democracy and i'd better start doing so as well. but not really a very satisfactory explanation of why some were involved and asked for feedback and some were not, despite all board members being equally board members. forgive me if that makes me a bit suspicious as to what's going on. especially as the minutes from the previous meeting (which i did not attend due to other commitments) didn't contain any reference to an agreement to seek such funding, tho' there was a reference to speak to a politician (none of the mails i eventually saw involved said politician). and while i respect initiative, it would seem to me that not only a select few should be involved, especially on questions of money. so i will continue to question these things until it's proven that i can trust.

i just did a little google search for articles and statistics on different cultures' trust in the public sector.  a norwegian report i came across suggested that traditionalists tend to have higher trust than modernists, who have more suspicion of the public sector. my own situation would seem to prove that to be true. the one fist-poundingly and pedagogically telling me that now she'd had enough of my lack of trust and that i'd better dane-up in my trust levels would definitely be a traditionalist. (she also happens to be the one who frequently "forgets" to include me.) (hmm, do i begin to smell the faint aroma of xenophobia?)

it's interesting that it came down to an argument of my not being danish enough in my thinking, rather than a question of the way in which our board functions as a group. i'd say that if you can't come up with a good argument for why you've done something, and on top of it, when questioned, you look sheepish and guilty about it, maybe you shouldn't have done it. and if you want me to trust you, you'd better start demonstrating trustworthy, inclusive, open, transparent behavior.  especially where public monies are concerned.


celkalee said...

Ah, dear Julie, as a bee-keeping woman I would hope that in future, in the meetings, you remember that kicking the hive upsets the worker bees but toppling the whole deal really pi--es off the Queen! (((smile))) She probably thought you would not challenge the issue, thus the pounding, just Danish enough, behavior.

Jody Pearl said...

You go girl!!

In my experience when someone answers a reasonable question with a pig-headed fist pumping answer it's got nothing to do with the subject that's being questioned, or you for that matter, it is all about them....and their insecurities - I think you make them uncomfortable Julie.

Good luck. x