Why Charity Doesn't Work | INFJ Forum

Why Charity Doesn't Work

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by bamf, Dec 20, 2009.

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  1. bamf

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    It was an interesting topic that was touched upon in a book that I'm reading, and I want to hash out some ideas that I've been thinking about, and see what you guys have to say. The title of the article is Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The main point of the article is that groups of people will continue to be oppressed, and that only the oppressed can free themselves. That isn't a new idea to me, I've read and thought about it in the past. Even if the oppressors 'give' the oppressed benefits, it only reinforces the difference between the two. The oppressed only get the benefits because the oppressors feel 'bad' for them, not because they deserve equal treatment as human beings.

    So my question is then, are we contributing to oppression when we donate to charity?

    Think about it for a minute. We donate money, food, cars, shelter, capital, and countless other things to those who are less fortunate than ourselves, but are we in some ways doing them more harm than good? What type of message are we sending to those who must beg or ask for help. Surely it isn't a message that they are worthy of being a 'normal' person; normal people don't have to beg or get hand outs. Is it possible that when we give to charity that we are only reinforcing the differences between 'us' and 'them'? For example, 'they' have to ask for food because they aren't 'us'. They are different than us, and don't deserve what we have. They are poor, and the only thing they are worthy of is free food. Surely there has to be a better way.

    By giving to charity, but denying advances to lessen the gap between the poor and the middle class, and the middle class with the rich, we are only contributing to a systematic oppression. We give these people food, but give them no means of getting it for themselves. Isn't it ironic that the basic necessities of human life; food, clothing, and shelter, are only acquired by wealth? So what do we do for those who can't acquire wealth? Do we help them learn how to acquire wealth, or balance the system in a way that they actually can acquire wealth? No, we give them 'hand outs', which only further separates us from them. We become 'good' people for giving to the less fortunate, when all we're doing is deepening the divide between ourselves.

    Now don't get me wrong, charities are need. They provide benefits to human lives. If the poor couldn't get a place to sleep at night, or a hot meal once a day, they'd surely die, but I ask you, if our only alms are giving to charities, aren't we doing more harm than good? You give a man a fish, he eats for a day. You teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime. Giving to charity simply isn't enough.

    We live in a world, and participate in a system, that thrives on dehumanizing people through oppression. Our economy works in a way that will only succeed if people are in poverty. When the economy is doing well, it sucks the impoverished into the workforce. When the economy is doing poorly, it pushes people on to the streets. We live our lives in the comfort that we do because there are people trapped in poverty. Granted, some are in poverty out of laziness, but when over a billion people are living in poverty, something's got to give.

    Giving to the poor simply isn't enough, we have to change the system in a way that gives the poor an opportunity to succeed, but even then that isn't a simple task...because the oppressed can only escape oppression by their own means.

    That is to say, we can make the system work for the oppressed, we can give the oppressed all the tools and education they require, but by giving to the oppressed, we only underscore the differences between ourselves. How do we help the impoverished? We lift them up to our level, and in doing so, only engrain our differences. We set ourselves as the standard, and give them what we think they deserve. They don't get it because they are human, but because we have it and they don't.

    So the big question is; how do we solve it?
    I'm starting to think the answer is, we can't. We can however make it easier for the oppressed (in this case, the poor), to overcome their oppression. We can continue donating to charity, but at the same time we have to work at restructuring the system. We have to not only keep them alive for the day, but teach them how to sustain their own lives, and we have to make access to such things easier for them. We also have to understand, that in order for them to succeed, we have to give up some things that we've grown to be accustom to.

    The world, and our lives, would be a drastically different place if we were to do away with a vast amount of world poverty. We wouldn't have the luxuries we have, we would probably work harder for our money, and life wouldn't be nearly as simple. This brings up a question I have for everyone...

    Do you really want to combat world poverty? Are you willing to give up god knows what aspects of your lives, in order for the people of the world to live better lives (and probably eliminate much global anguish)? Are you willing to live a more difficult life, in order for millions more to live an easier life? Did you really 'earn' all that you have; do you really 'deserve' the life that you lead; and are you comfortable in knowing that by living in such a way, you are damming millions of others?

    I know that I don't know the answer, and I wouldn't be comfortable in throwing everything I know away to make life better for people half way around the world, but I'd sure like to start working on it.

    When you 'give' to charity this season, think about what you're really doing. Think about if you are actually helping these people live their lives, or if you're only compounding their problems. I urge you to not only give to charity, but to think about what your givings are actually doing, and then to start working on creating a fairer system. Vote for things that would keep our developed nations from treating third world countries as 'markets', they're people; voice your concern for changes in the system that would stop systematically keeping people oppressed; petition and rally for equal rights; and most importantly, spread love and hope to everyone you meet.
     
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  2. Gaze

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    I think you'll find the following videos interesting, based on your post:

    [YOUTUBE]gBH47mByATc[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE]inClCwsVwjY&feature=fvw[/YOUTUBE]
     
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  3. OP
    bamf

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    Thank you, Restraint! Those videos are quite interesting. Thanks for sharing them.
     
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  4. WellNoWonder

    WellNoWonder Peace Through Action

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    !!!! <3
     
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  5. Raccoon Love

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    Very well said, I am happy to see an intellectual African actually state their viewpoint, and she is correct, the problem is not that we are not aiding Africa or any other third world country for that matter to fight diseases such as AIDS, the problem is that this governments are not doing anything to change the current state of the country, most government officials of this countries are corrupt, and the ones who benefit from any growth the country might have are limited to those corrupt officials, it really is a shame, what we need is not small aid, this is not going to solve the general problem, what needs to happen is that this sort of corruption should be stopped, and then the country might do everything in its power to grow, this countries have resources..so what's stopping them from growing?. We need to work on raising awareness of aids, not simply give aid drugs, as I said before that's not solving the problem.
     
  6. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    Very good observations.
     
  7. Reon

    Reon Midnight's Garden

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    Hmm, interesting topic. I typically see this argument brought in two instances, both having to deal with class structures. One has to do with racism and basically the point being stated was/is that nothing we can do will fix that. The other is poverty, specifically, the massive homeless rate. (particularly, american) Oppression and charity go hand in hand for various reasons, it keeps the poor poor and the rich feeling good but changing the situation is very hard. The second the balance starts to shift, everyone does, particularly the rich people. In concept, I love the idea of having a society where anyone could succeed if they wanted too but in actuality, I'm not sure if that could happen.
     
  8. BenW

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    The only thing that will actually help the developing world is good old-fashioned capitalism.
    Foreign aid exacerbates their debt, rather then alleviating it.

    Impoverished people need one thing more than anything else.
    Employment!

    Encourage them to lower/eradicate corporate taxes, creating incentive for jobs to be imported, and for new firms to open within.
    The bolstering of their economy will bring infrastructure improvements with it, thus boosting the economy even further...

    And the rest is history.
     
    #8 BenW, Dec 20, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
  9. Raccoon Love

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    I don't get why there's some sort of resentment whites and others might have towards themselves, we are not responsible to whatever the heck our ancestors might have done, and we know we are not like the people who lived on older times so why have so many prejudices? much of the reason why we are doing is simply to look good, well this is not helping Africa in any sort of way, they need to be able to grow as a continent and not depend simply on the more developed countries, look at Japan, got hit by 2 atomic bombs and do you see them crying all day about it? no they moved on, its time to stop the ignorance, sure lets all aid Africa but whats the purpose? if our help ends up not solving the big issue, first lets get rid of all the corruption and the ignorance there is of many sexual transmitted diseases and then maybe the continent can grow, once this happens we can aid the Africans economically and politically, advising them, and forming relations, but this is of no help and its never going to happen if the main problem is not targeted.
     
    #9 Raccoon Love, Dec 20, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
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  10. OP
    bamf

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    Capitalism thrives off the existence of poverty. In order for one to be rich, others have to be poor. Capitalism works only if haves, and have-nots exist. Capitalism is one of the reasons these problems exist. To eat, you have to have money. To have money, you have to have a job. Capitalism doesn't work if everyone has a job. Therefore people have to be jobless, people have no money, and have-nots can only survive if they suckle the teats of the haves.
     
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    bamf

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    True, we are not responsible for the past, but we're sure as hell responsible for the present. The present being that in order for people to be 'successful', 'rich', 'productive', or 'happy', they get measured up to the white male's standard of living. How do we make blacks and whites equal? We give the blacks what the whites already have, thus enforcing that there's something wrong with being black, and that white is the ideal.
     
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    bamf

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    Very true, and it would be no easy change. Is it idealistic to ask for such a thing? I'm inclined to say yes, but giving up because it's not possible won't change a thing. As long as there is hope and desire for change, it will happen. We may never reach the ideal world, but we sure can try.
     
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  13. BenW

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    Completely vacuous.
    Explain to me how a person being unemployed is a benefit to anyone else?

    As long as African's remain impoverished, they lack the ability to do one very important thing.
    BUY SHIT.

    The evil wealthy overlords you are alluding to want people that are capable of buying things from them. Unemployed and poor people lack the ability to do this.

    To simply:
    When the poor get richer, the rich get even richer.
     
    #13 BenW, Dec 20, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
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  14. myst

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    This is the awesomest thread ever ever! Thanks mf

    It seems like it's the only way I/we could feel genuine, happier, etc. It's difficult not knowing anyone to talk to about this, so I'm happy you posted :)

    uh, no

    Me too. Hope you'll keep sharing how it goes! Would be happy to about books & articles on the topic, ideas, research about international charity organizations, or anything else you can think of to do to make progress on this.

    Does anyone know what political organizations work on this? Being in a small U.S. city, I haven't been able to find any grassroots type organizations (I mean, where you can participate without having to have some difficult-to-achieve professional qualifications) that really focus on this.
     
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    bamf

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    Bah, where did I allude to evil over lords?

    I'm just stating a fact. Yeah, people want people to buy things from them, but we also have what we have because we are poor. There is a limited number of wealth in the world (sure the values change, but there is only so much stuff). If one person gets more, some one else has to get less. So you're telling me that we'd all be better off if no one was in poverty? I don't believe it. We'd all have a lot less.

    Capitalism requires poor due to fluctuating markets. If the market is doing well, it needs a source of people to pull in to the work force, but once the market starts doing poor again, it needs a source of people to flush back into unemployment. There has to be usable people for the markets to fluctuate. If everyone had a job, industries wouldn't have the freedom to expand at the rates they currently enjoy. We need trashable workers who will work for cheap.

    For haves to exist, there has to be have-nots.
     
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    bamf

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    How? The poor have to get their wealth from somewhere. Capital is limited.
     
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  17. Raccoon Love

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    Yes, we can try, but we need to face the fact that most people are selfish, people really care about their growth of their country, their lives, how it affects them and are ignorant to the struggles of all this others countries. We will need to change millions of views, as there might be some like you and me who are willing to take such change but there are the majority of the population who might not even be aware of 90% of the conflicts outside the US and the same can be said about many other countries. The solution? first we need to stop all corruption, we need to influence this countries to somehow change their political system..a country in which the ruler almost has complete control its not the way to go which is what many of this countries have, there is no check like here where there's something below watching what the president is doing, etc, there's a chain, control, we make sure everything gets revised in different stages and places over and over, many countries lack such system and the wealth is concentrated on those corrupt officials who are not observed, second we need to change the ways of the people which is a near impossible mission, we need to spread awareness, if the people are not educated on the current problems in their country there's not going to be a single action, we can try aiding people but what's the point if they are ignorant? we need to teach this people to manage themselves, that way we have intelligent man and woman running those countries and care about the growth of the country in general and not their specific wealth. We would need to change many of the old religious customs as many of this practices are in not way beneficial to the growth of their countries, there's many factors that need to be taken into consideration, sure we all want an ideal world, but we need to acknowledge that this is a very hard task and nothing will be accomplished until we stop the ignorance, the sentiments of the past, and actually care to spread education and form intelligent man and woman capable of handling future global issues.
     
    #17 Raccoon Love, Dec 20, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
  18. myst

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    It's argued that the reason the U.S. is the richest country (and we folks rich enough to have access to computers enjoy the benefits of being in places where that's possible) is due to the things our ancestors did (slavery, colonialism, etc). But I guess it's easier to argue that our richness is due to current international trade rules. So the idea is we're benefitting so hugely (I mean since there's such a big inequality in survival, lifestyle, etc), so we have some responsibility to do something about it.

    It's nice you're asking about it Raccoon!
     
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  19. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    Giving results and things is worse than giving methods and systems. It is also better to leave a lot of freedom for personal growth, while providing the needed conditions for improvement.
    Very Simple Example: http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_shows_how_kids_teach_themselves
    Summary: Kids teach themselves computers and english in a few months, if you just provide 1 working computer with Internet for hundreds of them.
    Generalized: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimally_Invasive_Education
    (all this is just one example; there are many other approaches)

    Mhm, if you ask me, nobody ever 'earned' or 'deserved' anything. Have you 'earned' your body? It's just a verbal tool for some more (actively or passively) cruel people to manipulate other people. Religious/philosophical explanations and misapplied social darwinisms are being disproven faster than ever, so the time is coming to face it.
     
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    #19 enfp can be shy, Dec 20, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
  20. Reon

    Reon Midnight's Garden

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    People typically care about the things close to them, I care about my family more than the family of some man in Africa. I care about you more than some woman from Bangladesh, it only makes sense. To care about the planet is truly a tremendous and often times painful task. It's not shocking that apathy has arisen to combat this.

    I don't necessarily agree that democracy is the way to go, especially the faux-democracy the U.S. has. (we really have a constitutional republic, and the difference matters) Many European nations have had GREAT monarchs and history proves this. It does run in the family (typically, I remember some nations randomly picked the leaders of the country) and that's where the problem arise, not from the individuals lack of checks and balances.

    If you are homeless on the street and have been for the last 10 years, I doubt the problems of wall street or the middle class asian american are going to matter to you. We have to think about priority. Many of the things we NEED to happen for the world to be a better place just don't have a high priority.

    What religious customs in particularly are you talking about?
     
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