Conversations I Wish I Had

the ethics of staying home

A point too often underrepresented.

the humanitarian's dilemma

US navy humanitarian aidThe textbook humanitarian’s dilemma: What if you can’t really help?

I’ve been trying for a while to articulate my thoughts on the ethical sticky spots of our (read: Western) impulse to rush to “help” when disaster strikes in the developing world—and the problems that arise when we aren’t actually qualified to help, and end up making things worse. A recent article published in Quartz, “Why rushing off to fight Ebola in West Africa isn’t the right choice” by Gregg Gonsalves, summarizes it perfectly (emphasis mine):

The ethics of humanitarian action go beyond our good intentions … [T]he West has a history of making things worse, setting the stage for the next crisis and hurting the very people one sought to help. This details the limits of what it is possible to achieve by humanitarian action alone. For example, famine relief has propped up authoritarian regimes and wiped away political…

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This entry was posted on October 20, 2014 by .
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