Monday, May 09, 2016

Cornflakes and Goats

One of the problems with trying to help is we often hash it up. It is frightening reading how many of the atrocities of the past were thought of with liberal intentions. Colonialism for example was justified us a 'Civilising Project'. A superiority complex believing that other people needed help, approached without any respect or curiosity to learn from the civilisations being civilised. We don't want to just give money, so we hand out goats, or water pumps, or clothing we wouldn't wear ourselves. We give someone who hates the things free cornflakes for breakfast. We let them eat cake.

I don't think the answer is to not help. In the same way as I think you earn the right to give feedback, I think you earn the right to help. Both start with a relationship. Both start with time and effort to get to know someone. I am an opinionated person, but I am working hard to reign back in any unsolicited criticism. I am working hard to listen without trying to pull apart an argument, until I have seen how the argument has been put together. Till I have attempted to empathise with the emotional base for the facts. To give the benefit of doubt. I think 'charity' should be the same.

I don't agree with the idea that 'Charity starts at home' which means we should just look after local concerns. The walls between our bubbles are too tall. Our problems end up being relative to the people immediately surrounding us and we lose perspective. If we extend the idea of home to being Global Citizens. If we extend the idea of home to being relationships we have built, then I can get on board.

We should put away our cornflakes and goats, and build relationships. If not, and we are desperate to help, I think GiveDirectly has the right idea. At least that form of help empowers people to make their own decisions.

'The deep evidences base for unconditional cash transfers provides plenty of reasons to be intrigued by basic income. We know people who receive cash transfers don't blow it on drinks or stop working but rather increase their earnings, their assets, and their psychological well-being'

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