Where does the future lie for social workers?

Where does the future lie for social workers?

Or should I have begun this post with the heading; what does the future hold for social workers across the world and not just in my immediate locale.

Anyway, what is done is done. The heading stays. But perhaps a good way to endeavor answering this question would be for me to address and talk about my own immediate surroundings and personal circumstances. Personal feelings will never be set aside whenever I try to take a professional angle. After all, this is a personal blog, so let us stay true to that.

And it seems as though, the serialized nature of writing up these posts is going to continue whereby it picks up on previous thoughts from earlier posts. It seems that my mind is preoccupied with the changes that are in the air that I am forced to breath. When I began thinking about how to structure this post initially, my first thought was that where social workers are concerned, particularly those that do get up every morning willingly to serve (and no matter how difficult it is for them to do this), their lives are just going to become busier and busier. You see, more and more people are coming forward with new problems.

I bumped into an old acquaintance this morning. He too was preoccupied, so our conversation wasn’t really productive and lasted no longer than a few minutes. Anyway, preoccupied with my own work, thoughts and new feelings rushing forth, I suddenly turned to the matter of our youth. I mentioned to this gentleman that while the rate of unemployment among our area’s youth remains a lot higher than the global average, and the associated problems among the youth a lot more serious, I said that this negative phenomenon among the youth is everywhere and in most parts of the world. I am still musing on why this has been allowed to happen.

They say it is economics. I say that it has a lot to do with greed. Companies, the large, multinationals being the most guilty of this, simply don’t want to risk denting their balance sheets to accommodate young men and women who represent the future of our society anyway. And many of these men and women are falling by the wayside even though they have shown promise by completing their diplomas, college and/or university degrees. The few lucky ones that do make it are paid a pittance. They call it a stipend for the duration of their internship. I am always reminded of Oliver Stone’s thought-provoking movies dealing with the matter of greed, inequality and the unwillingness to share resources that others will always have difficulty attaining.

The two phenomenal movies are called; Wall Street, and Wall Street: Money never Sleeps. In the first movie, the story’s villain, one Gordon Gecko declared that ‘greed is good’. But years later after serving time behind bars for fraudulent and dishonest behavior, he began his own walk along the path towards redemption. Setting aside all the filthy lucre he still had stashed away in a Swiss bank, never mind what he did with it in the end, he did do an about turn when he addressed a hall full of mostly unemployed young professionals when he warned them that ‘greed is not good’.

As the problems of society grow, the workload of our social workers grows too. In our line of work there is simply no space for self. We are there to help others, not ourselves. And while Gordon Gecko exhorted his new, hopeful followers to go and ‘buy his book’ we also have enough knowledge sources, collected over years, to help us with our daily grind. I am not just talking about the books and study material we have used before during our formative years of training. I am talking mainly about life’s experiences. Where today’s problems are prevalent, you always find that somewhere in the past similar mistakes were made and lessons were learnt from them.

In the past, where there were problems, solutions were sought and plans were implemented to help those who needed it out of their problems. Even here, mistakes were made and lessons learnt from it. So, one would have thought that the future looked a lot brighter. But human nature being imperfect, it doesn’t always. Human nature also has a habit of repeating the mistakes made in the past. I have to wonder though, how much better life would be, not just for those who need to be lifted up but for everyone, if we all simply just did the right thing. This question reminds me of another movie which takes its name from this very edict. To simply; Do the Right Thing.

I am not the most erudite critic of movies around but this Spike Lee movie touched chords in me. On the surface, and it was a hot one at that, it dealt with the problems of racism. But from these came other problems that led to this most base form of resentment. There seemed to be a sense of hopelessness in never being able to put one foot in front of the other to make ends meet and to make progress in life. There was also a sense of dejection in the sense that hard work and self-sacrifice did not always yield the desired effects.

All things being equal (in every sense of the word here), this movie’s real heroes (even though they also made mistakes) were the old folks who did everything they could at the time to steer the younger members of their community in the right direction. Let me close this post with this thought. Our work will always be necessary, but I think what would really help a lot, not just for us but mainly for those who need it, is if everyone pitches in to help in both small and magnanimous ways. As they say, every bit helps.

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