Who is a social worker? One of the simplest definition that one can hear is “Someone who serves the society.” But let us just question this definition. Why society needs to be served? Is it poor? Is it incapable? Does it have lesser than us?
Or do you think society is being exploited and a social worker is that “benevolent” species who helps the society to fight that exploitation because he is in love with humanity?
Or a social worker is that “selfish” species who wants to have an ego satisfaction of being benevolent and want to have that pride of “I work for the needy”?
Or you may say “powerful can escape the crime they have done on the powerless” and a social worker is the one who fights for powerless?
Not long from now, answers to above questions were mostly “yes” for me. But now when I have turned into a social worker by job title the answers are not affirmative anymore.
The first premise: “Social worker serves the poor in the society”
Man’s greatest incapacity is demonstrated when he finds an excuse for his situation – I am poor and stuck in vicious circle of poverty. So, why you don’t break that circle? You will have 13 children when you cannot feed yourself. You will be a part of the unions – beggars, rickshawalahs, coolies etc – and find yourself sitting idle rather than work. Finally when you sit idle for so long, you will sleep on a road platform only to be run over by a BMW. Then a social worker should come to help you to provide you justice? You will be the first to fight for your religion and be part of communal violence and expects police to save you and a social worker to rescue you? My dear poor friend, the only reason why you are poor is because you have not exercised your greatest gift – the gift of reasoning and a social worker should only be helping you find that it exists. The fight is of your own.
The second premise: “Social worker serves the incapable”
Let us define incapable here. Physically challenged or mentally challenged or rationally challenged? Take example of Helen Keller for physically challenged as shown in movie “Black”. Is your idea of benevolence a social worker should have is same as that her mother had or her teacher had? Her teacher was not at all benevolent. In fact, he was cruel. Was he still a social worker? In highest sense of term. He helped her find out the reasoning that “I can do it. I will do it” unlike everyone else whose benevolence was born out of pity that “she cannot”. Did the teacher serve the incapable or the capable?
The third premise : “Social worker serves people who have lesser than us”
What they have less? Money? Power? Or they belong to inferior race, caste? What a social worker will do for them? Mahatma Gandhi is considered a champion of caste oppression. But did he serve the Harijans because they had lesser than other castes or because they were equal to any other caste? Did he serve the people who are lesser than us or people who are equal to us?
A social worker serves the equally capable men and women who have not yet found the gift of reasoning in themselves and they are lesser, incapable and poor in only that sense.
Can any Tom, Dick and Harry become a social worker? Certainly not. It is a job where you require great leadership skills and great convictions. It is a job where you need belief not only on yourself but on people who you are working for. It is a job which does not work on principle of love for fellow men or kindness towards them but on rationality, reasoning and will-power.
And if you are altruist by nature then job of a social worker is certainly not for you. You really need to be selfish for the purpose of serving someone else. You are serving them for your own sake. You want to use your skills to help them find their capability. It is you who you want to win most badly. You want to be a champion or a teacher to bring out other people’s capability.
If you are becoming a social worker because you feel for the society or you are benevolent or an altruist or you love humanity then you are setting out yourself with false premises because to be a social worker you will have to be cruel, egoist and truly, madly, deeply in love with yourself.
As for me, I am trying hard to become one.