There are a couple of interesting pieces on Der Spiegle’s website about aid to Africa, and how it is not helping at all. In fact, the two pieces discuss how blind compassion is actually hurting, not helping, Africa. Even I, who some would (wrongly) call a right-wing wacko, took pause at what these articles suggest. How can we not help? However, if you take a step back, it truly brings this Chinese proverb to mind:
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
The first piece is an interview with James Shikwati, a Kenyan economics expert.
The second piece is a more in depth review, which is, frankly, quite depressing.
So where does this leave us? As much as we want to, and we should want to, help others, this should give us pause in how we help others. I am not advocating abolishing compassionate assistance, but this is no different than welfare here in the States. I will have to say that much of the same criticism that has been leveled at welfare, should also be leveled here.
It is not whether we should help them, because that is not in question at all, but how they who are being helped may be best enabled to no longer need assistance. For by freeing them from that need, the chains will fall from their feet and arms, and they will be able to go forth with heads held high with hope
I heard that proverb a little differently.
“Give a man fire and he’s warm for the rest of the night. Set a man on fire and he’s warm for the rest of his life.”
Now that I know how it really goes, I’m going to have to stop handing out matches.
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