When ancient texts, especially religious texts, are translated, there is often a committee. Around most of these texts, there is also a body of work, sometimes called commentaries. These commentaries sometimes are translations themselves but often are interpretations of the meaning. And usually they also provide a ‘practical application’ of this meaning for their reader.
The law is often similar although it is often written by a group. But it too gets translated and interpreted by others. The law has a huge body of work of people arguing points of view and applications (commentaries). It also has precedent; decisions made by judges in courts on cases.
And yes, both the law and ancient texts are being re-interpreted all the time and applied a new contexts.
The working in groups, with others, is important as it is to help reduce bias and increase rigour. And yet if the group all look and think like you, have similar life experiences to you, then bias is not going decrease. It potentially will increase due to group think. We see this in white privilege, patriarchy, in most groups with power, but we also see this in movements of resistance or rebellion.
So when, as humanitarians, we come into a country to help respond to a disaster and we want to ‘go digital’ and we collect our data. We bring a mindset, a worldview, a bias to the context and to the data. It is helpful to acknowledge this. And then do something about it. Perhaps we can analyse and interpret the data we collect with some community members for a start.
We are biased. All of us. And in many ways we need to be to live in the world. And in many ways, we want you to be, no we need you to be. We need your perspective, your way of seeing, and we need lots of others. When we come together in diversity we will learn. It may not be easy, but we will learn.