Exposures in the architecture of consulting: “God, Man & Poverty” in Central America

Philosopher - Self Portrait 2011

by L J Frank

New York City – the night before the flight I had a vivid, Freudian hued dream. Granted most of my dreams tend to be existential with an obvious surreal nature. The dream was not about the flight itself but the presentation I was to give. I was to meet with two company executives who represented people who wanted non-linear ideas and a facility concept generally reserved for the wealthy. The project employers and people they represented also wanted affirmation.

Interestingly, the people being represented were steeped in a personal faith. They thought God was a good listener and that you received in life what was best for you. It was a modern version of the 18th century French philosopher Voltaire’s (François-Marie Arouet) Candide. That is, we lived in the best of all possible worlds (see Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz). The idea opened the door to political and corporate mischief of keeping people in their place while extolling the virtue of a simple, uncomplicated life and leaving final authority up to those in charge. Control and self-control in a society marked by the haves and have nots can shatter the human spirit and help effectuate a polarized society. People want to leave if they live in fear for their survival. People who cannot afford basic services such as cost-effective health care die. Life’s equations are readily apparent when living on the edge.

That said, my dream was, as dreams tend to be, in an alternate universe.  I found myself in a room filled with wicker furniture, sitting on a chair meeting with two executives – a male corporate president and his female associate, sitting across from me with a coffee table between us.  Three glasses of chilled tea sat on the table. The room had a smoky ambience. There were two large, canopied windows to the outside.

The man’s face reminded me of an old black & white photograph I had seen of the author William Faulkner with a handsome dark mustache and trim head of hair. He was curt and articulate with an aristocratic air about him. The paradox to his demeanor lay in that he was partially naked, except for a freshly pressed long sleeve, cargo khaki shirt with button-down pockets and military style tactical boots. His attractive female colleague, with a shaved head, was dressed the same. They were both naked from the waist down except for their boots. Curiously his phallus was curved like a primitive fishhook and her  vulva was hidden under a thick mound of pubic hair sculptured in an ancient Egyptian motif. I felt bewildered and embarrassed. The executives were not so inclined. I was wearing an open collar shirt beneath a sport coat, light weight pants and dress boots. They questioned my reading habits. They turned to each other and looked at me, their mouths opened as if to speak when a telephone rang. It was the wakeup call from the hotel front desk. I got out of bed, showered trying to wash the dream out of my head, shaved, dressed, packed, and headed to the airport.

I departed New York City…a place I fly to and fly from…or so my experience suggests.

When I arrived at my destination, a taxi of sorts was waiting and took me through a blighted area of imperiled humanity. Education level is relative to available resources. I was told by the taxi driver that a majority of the people living in that area were looking to escape. They went to bed hungry. They woke up hungry. How many times must it be repeated that poverty is dehumanizing, debilitating, and a study in violence. Not everyone is equal or with the same access to sustainable resources, as a German freelance journalist intimated to me. They exist exterior to the necessary social and financial network to thrive. There’s a lot of semantics about being rich and being wealthy; in this case the impoverished were disposable humans. Let them leave or die in place. Within this extremist perspective I saw striking, tragic faces.

The ugly scars of ignorance, insecurity, and fear are political tools. A smile doesn’t necessarily mean you’re happy. It’s a social contour of adaptation.

The world is not a stranger to illiteracy and the culture of misinformation and disinformation. Words spouted from religious texts and made sacred by man eventually wither on the vine of hope if that vine is not watered with the physical act of compassion. How does one escape? To where? At what point does a person revolt? What form does the revolt take?

We drove to the outskirts of the city. The taxi stopped in front of a building that looked like a “Neo-Quonshut” – the past merging with the future. It started to rain. It was a downpour. The drops pelted the metal roof. Once inside I was greeted with a soft smile by a secretary and taken to the room where I was to meet the project employers. As we walked through a doorway, we entered a room filled with wicker furniture. There were two large open canopied windows. I stopped and blinked. What should I expect next?

Would you like a glass of iced tea sans sugar while waiting, the secretary grinned. They knew my tastes and philosophy. I nodded and thanked her.

The CEO and his colleague entered the room as the secretary departed, fully dressed I might add in casual business attire. He and his colleague were the opposite of the characters in my dream. Sporting a trim mustache above his thin upper lip, his voice sounded like what I imagined would be Captain John Yossarian’s from Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. He had an anti-warrior ambiguity and attitude about him. His voice appeared to question why he was there and not someplace else. His distinguished colleague with lengthy black hair, was deliberate in voice, while both explained the predicament they were in and sought someone one with different ideas. That’s where I came into their sights. I was viewed as an opportunity to hear from an asymmetrical thinker. I was there because he and his colleague had read something about my background, writings, and philosophy. They had spoken with a few people that were not on my reference list.

As for my writings and philosophy, it depends on the subject matter. I sleep with different ideas every night. I’m an intellectual whore. My writings, philosophy, and attitude are not about work hard, play hard or similar false pathos. I am frank or diplomatic as needed for the situation while developing a good amount of asymmetrical and non-linear thinking.  Such characteristics were wanted for the project along with a proportionate dose of humor, even if existential.