Altruism - For Whose Sake?
The death of at least 21 people in the stampede in Pasuruan, a small town in East Java, for a handout that amounts to about US$3.50 has raised a number of questions and an almost philosophical debate in the media, both formal and informal
.There are probably many ways you could look at the issue. Perhaps you could look at it from an economic perspective and analyse the value of life and the costs of getting into heaven. maybe you could look at it from a law and order perspective. You might look at it from a public negligence perspective, or as some have suggested you might want to look at this from the perspective of a complete breakdown in the trust of the people for their public institutions such as the police.
There is also the matter of the benefactors not having the foresight to consider the consequences of their actions.
What this has clearly demonstrated is that a reliance on personal donations is not the best way to survive and overcome the burdens of life. However, it is necessary to ask just who should be responsible.
As an unashamed idealist, I continue to believe that in a supposedly democratic nation, a country governed by the people for the people, we should all be responsible for caring for those unable to care for themselves. However, I am not referring to the notion of giving for the sake of giving. That way lies egoism, the complete antithesis of the meaning of altruism: the doctrine that the general welfare of society is the proper goal of an individual's actions.
Children should have an education system that enables them to realise their potentials as creative individuals rather than 'human resources' geared, A,B,C or D, to consume, seemingly what the current Indonesian school curriculum aims for.
Coming second just means that you are merely first in a long of losers.
That is a 'motto' spotted recently on a classroom wall in a supposedly Christian school. Muslims too are not exempt from that notion. Why else flaunt one's wealth through the very public giving of alms? "I'm richer than you."?
Medical care should not just be for those who can afford it: it should mean a reinforcement of the puskesmas and posyandu
, the system of primary health care based on community needs, a system which has deteriorated due to diminished resources following Suharto's abdication.
As a former director of a (British) registered charity, a non-faith based one, I have long held to the credo of helping others to help themselves. It is never enough to just give cash. Most folk in need of financial aid also need self-confidence and the knowledge that it is possible, albeit with help, to dig oneself out of the hole one finds oneself in.
Give (non-GM) seeds rather than bread, give a loom rather than a rich nation's cast off clothes (available at Pasar Senen in Jakarta), prevent rather than cure.
Ah, but I dream. I am not Canute, although I will probably always swim against the current, just to make it more difficult for those who callously disregard others, the Bakries of this world who when charged with people's welfare continue to enrich themselves, leaving mud and tear stained refugees in their wake.
The above has been penned following the receipt of an email this morning "because
(my) blog has a loyal following
The email is from International Medical Corps
, which "has the ability to save the lives of malnourished children around the world and we just received some very exciting news. We have been nominated to be one of the Top 25 in American Express' Projects
, 'Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children.' Our project was chosen out of 1,190 projects and is now eligible to receive up to $1.5 million to help feed hungry children.
All it takes to donate is a click from the IMC link above.
Not being a holder of an AMEX card, and wary of the current meltdown in the capitalists' financial world of greed, I was uncertain about why those outside the country would be interested in the goings on here in Indonesia as documented here, especially as I hadn't been aware of IMC before today.
However, IMC does have a page dedicated to their work here
, primarily in the provision of care in the wake of quakes and the tsunami.
And further reading tells me about the following projects: * Rehabilitating Aceh’s healthcare system, which involves rebuilding village clinics, hospitals, and midwife posts and improving access to them via bridge and road projects; training staff for and re-equipping more than 60 community-based mother and child health centers; and the operation of mobile clinics throughout the province until permanent facilities are fully functioning;
* Rebuilding livelihoods by giving residents the chance to earn their own income through a variety of vocational programs such as boat-building, lobster fishing, goat breeding, carpentry, tailoring, and brick works, which has, to date, helped more than 250 families reestablish their livelihoods; and
* Improving emergency response by working with a local partner, Ambulan 118 - a national organization of Indonesian health professionals - to transfer the skills and knowledge needed so that they will be able to rebuild their own health care system in case of future crises.
So their notion of altruism fits with mine. Need I say more?