A colleague recently raised the concern that most of the current dialogue regarding a ‘sailing’ paradigm are ‘North’ people. He wonders if we are not missing something by not bringing ‘South’ people more fully into the discussion. It is a good question.

When I first began speaking about changing from powerboating to sailing, it was in the context of finding language that would help ‘North’ people understand why there are still lingering concerns and frustrations around the world with the ‘North’s participation in global missions. Also, as a result of my presenting the topic in the presence of people from the ‘North’, I have been asked by ‘North’ people to make presentations on the topic.

It is very clear that this topic directly impacts ‘North’/’South’ relationships. ‘South’ leaders who have been exposed to it have received it with open arms because it may help them make progress in communication with their North brothers and sisters. Perceptive ‘South’ people also recognize that they are not immune to powerboating, and need the message as well for that reason.

I have spoken twice in an international context where ‘South’ people were present, and found them very interested in participating in the discussion. My intent is that this blog will draw them into the discussion as well.

I often hear that the North people in particular need to look at ‘sailing’. There is good historical reason for that, since we in the North have been most active in developing and operating a powerboat model. But I want to be careful not to encourage any sense among the South people that because they are not ‘North’ people they have got ‘sailing’ right.

The temptation to rely on our own power and control is universal. Western societies just happen historically to have recent success in the material realm and have been bolder and more confident in their own abilities.

The comparative material poverty of the South in relation to the North happens to favor them in a switch to ‘sailing’, but it is not a given. Powerboating is a universal tendency among humans of any culture. Some times the difference between ‘North’ and ‘South’ is not of paradigms but of resources. A rowboat is just as much a powerboat as a motor boat.

Once everyone grasps the meaning and implications of the metaphor, we all can begin to learn to ‘sail’ together.

What do you think?