Take Your Problems Out of the Microwave

Take Your Problems Out of the Microwave

Posted on November 09, 2022 by Connor LaGrange, TPF Fellow 2021/23
"You're still working on that?"

"That's still a program you are offering?"

"We aren't over that yet?"

Have you ever been asked one of these questions in your professional or personal life? A not-so-subtle nudge informing you that your response to something is taking too long. There is this odd, unspoken timeline for how long everything in life is supposed to take.

A friend of mine lost his wife several years back. He had a heartbreaking yet enlightening comment. He said, "My friends don't ask about my wife anymore." This statement gutted me. But it also gave insight into how we as organizations and people can sometimes operate. You see, in the immediate aftermath of my friend's wife passing away, the love poured in. Support was there in his time of crisis. But as time moves on, people's lives continue, the world keeps turning, and oftentimes the trauma of others is left to grow smaller in the rearview.

Recently, Florida was rocked by Hurricane Ian. With powerful wind speeds, rain, and storm surge only seen a few times in the state's history, the destruction following Ian's path is incommunicable. In the aftermath, the support and help from humankind was inspiring. People from across state lines, across town, or simply across the street banded together to provide support for our neighbors hit hardest. It truly was a beautiful sight to behold.

But what happens five months from now? Five years from now? When someone is still battling insurance companies for proper compensation or jobs didn't come back or loved ones are still gone. What happens then?

I remember visiting Houma, Louisiana, southwest of New Orleans, nearly five years after Katrina hit. Boats were still stranded on the side of the road, homes were never replaced, and roofs were still missing from shopping centers. I remember thinking, "Are we still doing this?"

The recovery was not happening on the timeline I assumed it would. I figured we threw some resources at the problem, and it should have resolved itself.

We are a Microwave society.

Throw your problems in, nuke them for thirty seconds, pull them out, and you're done.

How often do we treat our programs, initiatives, or partners in a similar manner? "Well, we already funded this. The problem should be dealt with."

The problem is, we are a microwave society living in a world in dire need of crockpot solutions.

Much of the work we do needs time, commitment, and grit. To think we can solve homelessness, poverty, or grade-level reading, in five minutes is, at best, wishful thinking and, at worst, borderline arrogant. Our solutions need time. They need to be put on low, to let simmer, to really perforate our communities. We need to be funders, organizations, and just everyday people committed to seeing a change in our communities or circles, no matter how long it takes.

By no means is this a plea for fiscal irresponsibility or getting taken advantage of as a friend. Rather, a petition for persistence. May we be reminded as we go about our lives that life's complex issues take perseverance, tenacity, and determination to solve.

What if we asked questions like this?
  • What progress have you been able to witness?
  • How have you seen the community continue to rally?
  • Have you had opportunities to evolve?

Take your problems out of the Microwave.
Let's be humans in it for the long run.

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