Six days ago, I returned from a week in Guatemala serving my role as a new Board Member on the Aldea Foundation (learn more), formerly the Behrhorst Partners for Development. Carroll Behrhorst, MD, was an important influence in my life as a friend, colleague, mentor and professor at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in the mid-1980s. The stories he shared and the questions he asked of me then have profoundly inclined my thinking and influenced the direction of my choices and my life. Being in Guatemala for the first time in 30 years, having my feet again in the world of international public health and education, and reconnecting with the Foundation and its on-going work of engagement, empowerment, increased personal and community agency, all based in profound respect for the Mayan people of the Highlands of Guatemala and the wisdom within us all, reminded me of the joy and power embedded in working with resonance.
Carroll Behrhorst lived and expressed deep and unconditional respect and high regard for the people he served. Stephan Kinzer, in his New York Times article of July 16th, 1984, said Dr. Behrhorst’s was a “health program” rather than a “medical program.” He and his colleagues, all of whom were Guatemalan, trained hundreds of local health promoters to treat the sick in their own villages, which Dr. Behrhorst believed anyone with a ‘modicum of information and compassion’ could easily do.
Wisdom lives within each of us. Developing practices that help us recognize and attend to that wisdom is a foundational goal of emotional intelligence. We can all help one another. Given pertinent information and by activating our innate compassion, we can become and we can co-create more peaceful, just, accountable, fair, and healthy individuals, families and communities. By knowing ourselves better and by practicing our sense of choice, our sense of agency, we can more often align our actions with our inner knowing or wisdom, guided by our emotions and by a moral compass.
I am reminded by my recent visit to Guatemala and the work of the Aldea Foundation of both the power and the joy of working in an environment where there is resonance–where beliefs, assumptions and values are shared. As we clarify and make more explicit our shared beliefs, assumptions and values, we create the opportunity to work with greater joy, perseverance, creativity, flexibility and power to more sustainably cultivate a just and peaceful world.