Pain, Perspective and Pardon… Revisited

Since November 17, 2011, I have not written about the lamentable situation at The Merida English Language Library (MELL). I hoped that all parties: Board, Volunteers, and Members would work together to turn the negatives into positives.

In reality, my worst fears have been realized: the international community has been fractured by this. There are very valid reasons for outrage from all affected parties but quite frankly, there has also been a lot of posturing, stamping of feet, and hidden agenda keeping.

Now, Reg Deneau has come forward to try and calm the troubled waters. He has one goal in mind: the continuation and eventual growth of our library. I have already heard grumbling and I hope my friend will not be turned into the sacrificial lamb.

Stop and think… Reg is offering the community an opportunity to move beyond the hurt of the past weeks, a chance to fix what’s broken, and then salve our wounds and move on…

I cannot believe that we are not capable of this. In our business and professional lives, we dealt with similar issues and we know that conflict resolution is possible… never easy but definitely possible. So, let’s bite the bullet and get on with it.



Filed under Destinations

27 responses to “Pain, Perspective and Pardon… Revisited

  1. Chloe

    Joanna, I’ve been watching the comments on your blog all day and hope, as you do, that tomorrow’s meeting will start to clear the air. It will be informative and may help people understand the critical timeline under which we, the Board, have had to operate for months now. I was particularly in agreement with your comment regarding “board members” by default in non-profit community organizations and feel personally that MELL’s current situation arose directly from such a problem. I also know that no matter what our wildly different ideas are about how to resolve this and work toward a secure future for MELL, we are all occupying common ground in our love and concern for the Library. I hope to see you at tomorrow’s meeting, which may not be seamless, but will certainly be productive. As you say, “It can be done!”

    • Hi Chloe, this is a terrible situation. Although I am sympathetic to all, I will not attend tomorrow’s meeting. I have not taken a firm stance, nor will I because truly I respect and care for people on both sides of the issue and I can see that each makes valid points. I wrote this post to defend my friend Reg – no other reason. I have spoken to him and he absolutelty feels he can be of help to MELL in its time of need. I hope everyone can see this and that he’ll be respected. My hopes for a good, productive meeting…

  2. yucatango

    Unfortunately, problems at the library don’t affect just the expat community. Yucatecans also rely on the library for English-language books and friendly language exchanges with native speakers. I hope that the people involved can address the issues with respectful communication and professionalism, because the current disarray reflects badly on all expats and deprives Yucatecans of a valuable resource.

    • I could not agree more. I have always felt very pleased that MELL has such an inclusive attitude and many Yucatecans I know love the Library. This situation does reflect badly on the international community and it is vital that we resolve it as yoyu say, with respectful communication. Thank you for commenting

  3. Just a point of clarification: the pending board members are all long-term volunteers who know the ins and outs of the library and have had board experience. Fortunately our community is not short of talent or willingness to serve when needed.

    I enjoyed the song and its message but, for me, I feel the discussion about the best course of action is far from a war. Better to get things in the open and make it right than to put a band aid on and hobble along until the next crisis.

    • Bandaids have a long tyradition here and I’ve always lamented them… yes, it’s better to get things in the open, but how is the issue. I have faith that it will be the right way in tomorrow…

  4. I sincerely hope that Monday’s meeting will be a positive one that it will not drag on and on with lots of conflict and that when it is over, there is peace and MELL can get back to running smoothly.

    As mentioned above, ”let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

    This is a passionate subject for many, on both sides of the coin….I hope everyone does what is good for MELL and not their personal agendas.

  5. I know this will seem to be an extreme comparison to many out there, but this is how my mind works. This morning, while reading you post, I began singing this very old song sung by Joan Baez:

    “Last night I had the strangest dream
    I’ve ever had before
    I dreamed the world had all agreed
    to put an end to war.”

    Sure, it is an extreme comparison. But maybe not–if this anti-war dream can be entertained, surely a smaller war, such as the one we’re witnessing here over MELL, can be SOLVED.

    I must say, so far, no one has convinced me that a total dissolution of the board would do anything more than throw a group of inexperienced “newbies” into the fire. Patience, experience, reflection , are always of value–if conflicts are to be actually resolved, rather than just re-shuffled.


  6. I disagree with the statements implying that many are only venting their feelings and do want what is best for the library. Let’s not confuse passion for finding solutions with non-productive emotionality. Everyone I have either spoken with or read comments from during this ordeal loves the library and wants what is best for “our family.” The quality of the discussions, except for a few anonymous postings, has been solution-based and not at all given to character assassination. The issue at hand is which of the proposed solutions will best return the library to its former harmony. I’m looking forward to a solution-based meeting that addresses the issues at hand. I’m proud of our community for their support and involvement in proposing solutions based on rational thought and open discussion.

    • Please don’t misunderstand my words, I am not saying that the majority of people are simply venting. There are real issues to settle and there are people looking for the best solutions. But there are those who are spoiling for a fight and prone to what you rightly call “character assassination.” I hope those voices have said their piece and will now be silent and the correct choices will be made in a civil manner.

  7. Amen, amén, אמן, and even آمين , and ALL the rest!

    That’s a great way to conceptualize the need, Joanna–“conflict resolution” is certainly the best way to go–especially if a healthy state is the real goal. Thanks.

  8. Hi Joaana, I’ve been reading your blog(found it through Lee’s blog) and I’m sorry to hear of this situation.I was there last March and MELL was a big part of helping me decide to want to start to make plans to move to Merida.I have been moved by yours and many of your friends wisdom and compassion dealing with subjects in your blog. I would like to send you $ towards MELL if you can tell me where to send it by Paypal. I have been part of a group where a person of authority has been weak with a temptation and given in to it causing conciderable damage. It will take time and grace. We did as you suggested, we all pitched in to rebuild the reserve. Emotions can run wild , I myself know only to well that I can get carried away when passions run deep and as was said many of those in office end up there because of default.( Thank God for those individuals ). Something that comes to mind that I keep trying to meditate on in my life…”let every man be swift to hear,slow to speak,slow to wrath”…it’s a proccess…I’ll keep MELL in my prayers. P.S. I’m waiting for yor book to arrive from amazon !

    • Thank you Michael. Based on the comments received today, a lot of thought is going into finding a fair outcome. And I too look forward to the Library’s fresh start

  9. Marie Barchus

    Hi Joanna,

    I believe that we all want this to be resolved. The heart of the matter seems to be the Board members who allowed the funds to be drained while not bothering to have Board meetings for several months. There has never been any transparency with that Board and their lack of hands-on experience with the library has only added to their poor decision-making abilities of late. There is no longer any confidence in the library Board and the best resolution, as a majority of members and volunteers agree, would be for those Board members to graciously stepped down, and legally put a more hands-on Board into office. A Board who will work WITH the wonderful volunteers and show them the respect they deserve. A new Board will realize that transparency, co-operation, and due-diligence are the only way to resolve the current problems and would be fully aware of the current problems that need to be addressed and resolved. Otherwise, I am afraid that the personality of the wonderful library that has become a big part of our community is doomed, with Kindle and Nook sales soaring, and other venues of group socialization becoming the norm. What a needless loss that would be.

    • You have stated your opinion well. I guess what we also need to keep in mind is that the Board is also comprised of volunteers. They are busy people and if they let things slide, maybe it was because they never imagined in a month of Sundays that one of their own would ever do anything illegal and leave them vulnerable? I have been involved in volunteer organizations for many moons and it has been my experience that the officers are usually on the Board by default… (in that NO ONE else will do it.) As they have other concerns and worries, their position as officers doesn’t always get the due diligence necessary. I don’t for a minute think that the current board, any of the great volunteers or loyal members were out to hurt and damage one another or the Library… but as one gets backed against the wall, tempers surge and rightful indignation flares. This has happened – BIG TIME – but now it must settle if we are to move forward. It is hard, but that’s what it will take.

      • Marie Barchus

        Joanna, there has been a new, very qualified, proactive Board ready to get on board for months. The current Board has been aware of this, but instead, seems to keep trying to shift the blame to people who do not deserve it, which obviously has just made matters worse.

      • In our family, we have always tried to make decisions that are best for “our family” – not those that are just best for one member or another… Sometimes one or more of us comes up short but eventually it works out… and that’s what I feel we need to do in the case of the Library. We need to do what’s best for “our Library.”

  10. Thank you for verbalizing what I have been feeling. The library is an important asset to Merida as well as the expat community.

  11. Mary Moore and Joe Nold

    We certainly hope that the situation can be resolved. Merida without MELL is hard to contemplate.

  12. There’s a lot that has not yet been addressed and we need to be sure that the crumbs are not swept under the rug. Hopefully Monday’s meeting at the library will clear up many of the unresolved issues. And then there is the firing of the whistle blower. How will that ever be resolved? In my opinion there are many sacrificial lambs including our beloved Lorna Gail, the volunteers, and Maria Herrnandez, the libraian. The difficult question for me is how do I support my friend Reg’s appointment and continue to believe in my heart that the library deserves a new beginning with a new board and that whistle blowers should receive legal protection?

  13. Leslie

    Could not agree with you more Joanna. However, I do believe in order for that to happen it should be with a clean slate across the board. All members of the current board should step aside and let things take a fresh start. If they care at all about it’s members and the Library it should be an easy decision.

    • Leslie, Raine, Mary, Joe and PQ: Thank you all for replying. The situation at MELL is delicate… There are many undisclosed facts. Everyone has information that they aren’t sharing. The meeting on Monday will hopefully bring a lot of this into light. I hope this can be accomplished in an atmosphere of civility and cooperation. I pray that everyone will refrain from venting as much as their strong feelings will allow and that they will keep the Library’s continuation as the first objective. People have been unfairly treated and this absolutely needs to be resolved… and alongside everything else, the legal process must be followed. It will be a tough, tough time for all. But I truly believe it can be done.

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