A Question for Community Wellbeing
“I believe it is time to state clearly that specific situations and circumstances are “sickening,” rather than that people themselves are sick. The symptoms which modern medicine attempts to treat often have little to do with the condition of our bodies; they are, rather, signals pointing to the disorders and presumptions of modern ways of working, playing and living.” – Ivan Illich
Clearly ‘what’s the matter with you?’ Is not a question that helps anyone towards wellbeing. But despite its new found popularity, neither is its alternative: ‘what matters to you?’ At least not fully anyway.
The key wellbeing question is not ‘what matters to you?’ It is ‘what matters to you, that you’d like to join with others in doing? Or ‘what matters to you enough for you to take action with others?’ And ‘what would help get you all get connected?’
This shifts the conversation from ‘I’ to ‘we’, and overcomes the risk that ‘they’ answer the ‘what matters to you?’ question from the position of a passive client. The reframing optimises the possibility of shifting from a client to citizen response, and therefore positively disrupts the client/professional power dynamic.
In Singapore South Central, the team have been asking these kinds of ‘we’ oriented questions (with many variations) of local residents, and encouraging them to ask it of each other. The results have proven powerful for community building and the wellbeing of all involved. Here are some pictures of some of what they’ve been getting up to: