Friday, July 23, 2010

Another Look at Helping: A Follow-up to the Honduras Post.

Since I wrote that last post about "short term missions," I have received quite a bit of feedback.

The vast majority of it has been along the lines of "fair" and "harsh."

Both of these are true and while my intention was fair and not so much harsh, I don't seem to have a lot of control on the harshness, and I'll tell you why.  My best writing comes when I am very emotional or angry about something.  There were many things in there I felt very strongly about and still do and I apologize for anyone's feelings, but there are more important things than feelings.

The truth is more important than feelings.

And the truth is that after fifty years and billions upon billions of dollars of "aid" to places like Africa, our heavenly minded efforts have yielded little more than dependence.

We're doing it wrong.

And I'm not even talking about evangelism here, most of those places where humanitarian aid is being dispensed have been or are being evangelized.  But it's hard to learn anything on an empty stomach.  We need to fix the empty stomach, and not just by filling it today, but teaching how to fill it for a life time.

My mentor sent me a link to a trailer for the movie "What are we doing here?"  I am very strongly looking forward to watching it.

You see, far more than the expected "fair" and "harsh" returns I got from that post are all the people who I'm finding have already come up with this same stuff on their own.  On the suggestion of a friend of mine, I have decided not to go on short term group trips anymore.  Rather, I'll go on trips with just me or a couple of close friends or family members.

I feel a movement coming.  A movement of humanitarians who have seen that the easy "throw money at it" solution doesn't work and that the real solution requires a lot of hard thinking, planning, doing, and then rethinking.  A movement of people who know that the benevolent white man doesn't always know best.  I see a movement of people who care where all this is going and who don't simply feel better because the check is in the mail to some "help the poor starving children" fund with high overhead.

I know I get cynical.  I am cynical.  I doubt everything.  Someone has to.  But as you might be able to tell, I'm also an unsinkable optimist.  It's a fantastic dichotomy I know.  It's hard to deal with sometimes, but we're not here for things to be easy.  The most damaging things in life are often really easy to do.  The most beneficial are often very hard.

So stick with me here,

and do the hard thing.


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