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May 22nd, 2023 Mature Content

"Accountability" – Sandhya Jha

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  1. "Accountability" - Sandhya Jha Terry McMullen 50:54

Sandhya is an author and anti-oppression consultant with 20 years of community organizing experience. She particularly loves helping organizations get Diversity/Equity/Inclusion teams off the ground. These types of topics are really interesting to me, not only for the obvious reason of how important they are to reduce unnecessary suffering, but also because they speak directly to the complexity of human nature. Trying to understand the root cause of oppression and inequity (which I think is critical to actually addressing the issues) requires you to understand human nature.

This made for a good discussion because Sandhya has tons of practical, hands on experience working with individuals and organizations in these areas. We were able to explore the theoretical concepts as well as the real life implications. She started with “accountability” as her most important value because she believes in impact over intent, or as she put it we should always honor intent but we must acknowledge impact. By that she means that we can’t take our hands off the wheel, we can’t just assume we are good people, or that because we didn’t intend to harm somebody that harm wasn’t caused. We have to do the work to see what impact our actions are actually having.

The other thing I really enjoyed about talking to Sandhya is that the conversation covered religion/spirituality, history, philosophy, and psychology. We really tried to look at these issues from all angles to understand them. We talked about power dynamics, racism, if we should care about other people’s children as much as we care about our own, black lives matter, and Bacon’s rebellion– just to name a few.

I’ll be honest, I am still not sure we as humans are capable of overcoming some of these deep rooted issues that have plagued us throughout history. But it always gives me hope to hear the stories of someone like Sandhya, who is doing the work to bring people together, share their stories, and find ways to focus on what connects us rather than what divides us.

I spent much of my career trying to consult companies on how to better achieve their goals. I was a Finance major, a Harvard Business School graduate, and a business strategist. I've always been curious and I've always loved trying to solve problems. It was a really good fit for a while, but then life happened.

Within the span of a couple of years I had a son, my sister tragically passed away, and my wife became severely ill with Multiple Sclerosis. All of a sudden everything I thought I knew about life didn't seem to make sense anymore. I needed to raise my son and teach him how to be a good person but I realized I didn't even know what it meant to be a good person, let alone know how to teach him to be one. I also realized that I wasn't capable of being the person my wife needed me to be to help care for her. Simply put, I wasn't good enough.

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