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I don't think everyone is cut for all of that, and everyone's potential impact is the same. I for example, when confronted to squat-level poverty, get either very angry or feel totally helpless, depending on my mood. Others who succeed in helping in such places may be emotionally bland. And there is also the issue of what you get out of it. There is always an agenda, and even if it's unconscious, it's there. What do we get out of travelling thousands of miles and sharing the living conditions of others?

Also, there are already very qualified local people in countries that welcome help. There is rarely a justified need to send "experts" from Europe and elsewhere for irrigation projects in Niger, when Niger already has experts but not the cash to give them a job or material to do their job. There are obviously some really good humanitarian workers, but they should be prioritarily be there to train local workers to do the same job, not to do the work themselves. Any foreign humanitarian worker, even by being a volunteer, earns more with his/her rent & lunch budget than any local worker ever will. But ok, this all belongs to a whole different debate, which we can have elsewhere.

My point should be that some of us may be helping the world more by helping usher it in the right place. Every little action counts. This morning I was wondering what I'd done with my life. I thought "I'm lay, I don't produce anything, I don't have any ambition, so what good am I?". Then I thought of all the people I had been in close contact with and realized how much their lives had changed after meeting me. And inversely. And I concluded "I am part of it all, I have my role".

We create ideas, we exchange ideas on a blog ... then we talk about them with our friends, then they talk about it to their friends, and these ideas eventually make it out all the way into the townships and favelas. Just look at how fast a virus/worm or a funny picture travels the entire internet. We are all connected online, and we all know everyone else on the planet anyhow.

by Alex in Toulouse on Fri Apr 14th, 2006 at 04:44:10 AM EST
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