At this early stage in my career, the idea that change could be ‘enabled’ by the creation of a ‘facilitative environment’ was very appealing. It drew on an optimistic view of human nature, seeing the human being as a growing and developing organism that only required the right ‘soil’ to achieve a full flowering. The facilitative environment also supported people’s resilience in the face of trauma, loss and damage.
It may seem naive to put one’s faith simply in the maturational process in the face of the destructive forces in human nature, the corruption of power, the damage of property etc. It also seems an understanding suited to youth when life spreads out before us with seemingly endless possibilities, when ‘growing up’ has always been our task. It is harder to believe in as our lives progress, as we encounter the reality of death, the indifference of natural forces, the times of being stuck, the experience of failure etc. That it is harder to believe, that we tend to become grumpy old men and women, does not of course mean that there is no truth to this youthful optimism. Its loss as a freshness, a sort of Spring song, may be painful and hard to endure but it merits more attention than world weary dismissal in the name of realism, or than sentimental yearning for lost good times. At its simplest, we are growing and developing organisms, continuing to create cells even through old age.