Friday, November 09, 2007

Killed by Committee

My heart was not made for C-Span. No offense to you raging politicos who love a good filibuster, but there's something that just bothers me about bureaucratic bodies, whether they represent national legislatures or just misguided Christian organizations (see last post). I think what unnerves me so much is the Committee. Not any one in particular, but the Committee as a concept, as a way to domesticate a world that is otherwise beautiful, poetic and downright disorganized.

Think about it. No kid ever grows up wanting to be the chairperson of a committee, but as we grow older, it seems that involvement in them is unavoidable if we want to advance. And we all fall into their trap. Eventually, though we may despise them, we come to see committees as a necessary part of life. And as we've accepted them, they've begun to take over. They're rampant in the church, and as I've learned in my life as an international business reporter, they pretty much make the world go 'round.

This is strange because committees, with all their rigid structure and pompous groundedness, really don't actually do anything. They might talk for awhile, and individuals might raise their hands to vote, but the rubber usually meets the road outside the boardroom where the decision is made. For instance, a missions committee might decide which trip to support financially, but the committee members themselves aren't doing the sharing. Congress can vote to declare war, but they won't be the ones dodging enemy bullets.

And so we see that the mission of a committee is to organize the world, to avoid the chaos that comes with indecision or disagreement, to keep the gears turning. In essence, to be totally useful. But that cold, detached utility is just the thing that makes committees so hard to stomach. With a vote to cast, everything becomes black and white, and its hard to get above the crowd to see the human implications of a boardroom decision.

I may be overdramatizing my hatred for committees. In fact, I think that you could call them something else and I wouldn't mind them at all. But I think there's something in every heart that can condemn them as an assault on spontaneity and passion even as we realize their necessity in making a broken world function properly.

So as you sit through that board meeting, don't be afraid to look out the window and daydream a bit. A committee without dreamers is disconnected from its constituency: people who have spirits, who are substance, not just form, who have hopes and fears and dreams and who will feel the impact of the committee's decisions. Through all your endeavors to become a mover and a shaker, don't forget to stay human.

No comments: