Thursday, November 19, 2009

Help? Part I

My recent tweet generated some interesting questions. Here is what I said, following a couple of twitter updates about how frustrations of work: "Here's what it's boiling down to: If in all our attempts to help we only see a mess being made, should we focus on protecting ourselves?"

This started some interesting discussions with a few different people, so I'd like to clarify here what I meant, in the hope that I can get more interesting input from more different people.

Here's an illustration a friend helped me come up with:

- If you're on a street corner and a homeless man comes and asks you for a coin, but you suspect he might use it to buy drink, do you give it to him?

- Now, let's say you decided to give it to him because it's the nicer thing to do. And you watched him walk straight to the corner store, buy a bottle of booze, and drink it. Now he has come back and is asking you for another coin. Do you give it to him?

- What if you came to the street corner, knowing there were homeless people here, and you brought a bunch of coins with the express intention of handing them out to homeless people. Do you keep giving them out?

- And what if, actually, someone gave you a job to do exactly this: they hired you to go to the street corner and hand out coins to homeless people. So you came with your bag of coins, handed some out, watched the recipients buy drinks... What do you do now?

Enough for now... further thoughts coming later!


LKBrazil said...

I guess I'd try something like using some of the coins to buy sandwiches or something else healthy and try to hand those out instead. By seeing who took the healthier (in many ways) option, you could be starting to identify potential people who are ready for more substantial help, those you could help to learn ways to better their lives.

bethany said...

The qualms of aid/development work! Follow your conscience and pray a lot. We must be wise in how we act, but not let the complexity of it all become a reason to not do anything. I'm right with you in the debate. Tell me if you every figure out and inlighten me!

Anonymous said...

I’d blemish the beginning of to ascertain that too!

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