It was Edmund Burke's dictum that for evil to triumph, all that is required is for good men to do nothing. Yet an alternative case can be made: in the global altruism business, it is, indeed, sometimes better not to do anything at all.
Whilst worldwide audiences are keenly looking forward to Live8
, there are justifiable concerns
that Saint Bob may not be doing the good that he, and most of the rest of us, think he is.
A niece writes: Hi everyone. Just wanted to share something with you all....... I have won tickets to the Live8 concert in London's Hyde Park on July 2nd !!!!! I am so excited, I have been jumping around the house. Thought I should stop to share my good news.
I don't know much about Live Aid or how it became one of the first global humanitarian crusades. I was somewhere remote, in the Himalayas as I recall, at the time, out of touch with the rest of the world except by snail mail. Although I recognise that celebrities have spearheaded mass movements, I can't say that my social awareness has been raised because a media personage has turned me on to an issue.
And therein lies my pondering. Fifty percent of us live in an era of mass communication and this is turning us into zombies. We buy the same products because there are fewer manufacturers. The only difference between us is the number of superfluous add-ons on our handphones.
My boss' son is very proud of his. He doesn't use it for communication; in fact, he has only got a couple of numbers programmed in, but apparently it makes him feel cool ~ is that still the right word? ~ when he's posing in a café surrounded by the lasses he wants to impress. In spite of globalization, his knowledge of the world is limited to Jakarta and, probably, Singapore where his family goes shopping.
Our involvement in causes is vicarious; let others suffer on our behalf. We can assuage our consciences with a swipe of our credit and/or debit cards, an instant panacea. Everything is accessible at the touch of a keypad.
BBC reporter Ben Brown
returned to Meulaboh, Aceh, to follow up one woman's plight.Rohati must be baffled, even bewildered by our behaviour. She has been singled out by us not once, but twice. Both times she has bared her soul for our camera. Both times I have listened sympathetically and then walked away.
I give her money, a considerable amount by Indonesian standards. But then it occurs to me that perhaps poor Rohati believes that because we have come back to see her again and accorded her such special treatment, we can deliver something more than just a fistful of cash.
Here in Jakarta a group of expats is concerned with the plight of so-called street children.Street Children Care is a project of Rotary Club Prapatan, all profits made from the sales of our Merchandise goes 100% to our projects. We do not deduct any costs for administration and all our representatives are contributing their time and efforts voluntarily.
The Street Children Care donor ship program asks for an annual contribution of only USD 100. With this contribution we will be able to sponsor a Child for School Education and after school activities in the Street Children Care Activity Houses.
For Companies and interested organizations we have a special Business Sponsor Program that allows businesses to confirm or underline our mission, vision and goals by donating money for our project. Product and service participations are also a very suitable way for them to help our experience has learned in past.
It is a Jakartass contention that one should do more than donate money. Kampung Kids
, for example, is in desperate need of computers in order to provide additional skill, self-esteem and greater job opportunities
. They also provide sewing classes for mothers, providing 10 ladies with a new skill and the chance to earn additional income through sales.
The issue of street children is complex, although poverty is generally the root cause. Read Jakarta Kid
for an overview. His personal insights can be found here
He, like Jakartass, is a Global Voice
, yet what we have to say is a mere reflection of an individual trying to make sense of a rapidly shrinking world.Read this posting
on Waiter Rant and ponder. It says more about the power of an individual to care for humanity than, I suspect, Live8 ever will.