Finding the Art in Everything

17 November, 2007

Responding to "Stop 'Making a difference.'"

I seem to have started something by posting an article I found curious on my Facebook. Then a friend of mine posted an emphatic criticism that motivates an explanation for my original posting.

I confess the article was on the side of obnoxious, and of course I do not hold it as the epitome of intelligent analysis. But I thought there were three things worth considering:

  1. It is interesting to consider that humanitarian actions may not be entirely benign. I have a sister who used to run a homeless shelter for teenagers, many of whom struggled with drug addictions. While they need compassion and aid, unadulterated charity, particularly of the monetary kind, often made matters worse instead of better. What many of them needed was accountability and especially treatment. Filling their stomachs was hardly meeting their needs.
  2. I liked his destruction of the inane “giving back” motivation, though I am not sure he went about it as I would have liked. “Giving back” creates an imaginary debt to an unidentifiable lender, which I find absurd. Sowell says that the “lenders” are the people who engendered a society that affords us the luxury of the capacity to give. I think that humanitarianism is NOT motivated by repaying a debt, but by something more noble: the simple fact of loving your neighbor. There is nothing noble about paying what you owe, and that doesn’t explain the great humanitarian sacrifice made by many. Recognizing the dignity and worth of those made in God’s image, who are seeking to bring about His kingdom on earth may be the only thing big enough to explain it, where the poor, the meek, the mourners and the peacemakers are blessed. And this is big enough to encompass people who act outside organized religion or who even subscribe to it. Loving your neighbor is not tied to debt or membership.
  3. I liked that he points out the merits of Western Society. I am watching Amazing Grace in class this week where good men fought to eradicate one of Humanity’s greatest evils. When I was in school, my teachers focused more on the plight of the enslaved instead of the people who fought to eradicate slavery—focused more the opposition to the abolition movement instead of its success. There are two lessons to learn from this part of history, where we need not only review the human potential for great evil but also the potential to eradicate it. The “truth” that he talks about may not be statistically correct or free from generalization, but it should be two-sided.

I have posted my commentary in a couple of places because I am not sure where it was supposed to go. (Whose Facebook? Whose blog?) But there is a Life Lesson here: Mind your Facebook postings.

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