by Phil Bartle, PhD
We want, even need, to help those less fortunate than ourselves, but that help can be more unfortunate for them
We have a desire to help the poor. It is so common in so many cultures we would suspect it to be a human universal. It is a common precept in all the major religions, and probably the minor ones as well. Giving to the poor, or giving alms, makes us feel good. So much so that some observers suggest that we give to satisfy our own needs, not those of the recipients.
It comes as a surprise then that the Empowerment Methodology says that charity is wrong, it increases poverty, it hurts the recipients. The purpose of the Community Empowerment Methodology is to eliminate poverty, not to hurt the poor.
We help the poor by working with them to stop being poor, to become self reliant, to become strong. It is a very different help than giving them alms.
Rewarding people for doing some things trains them to do those things more. Giving alms to a beggar trains the recipient to continue being a beggar. Giving grants to government officials who can embezzle the money trains them to continue getting rich at the expense of the people of both countries. Giving gifts from one country to another trains the recipient country officials to expect, even demand, more. Giving a latrine or water supply system to a low income community trains the community members to expect more such gifts (let alone does not train them to maintain the facility).
But we want to help them, and to reduce (not alleviate) poverty.
How can we do this?
We facilitate them to choose the Empowerment Methodology, to organize, to mobilise, to struggle, to become more self reliant. We have touched on this issue in various other places on this Web Site: Factors of Poverty, The Dependency Syndrome, Key Words Charity, Key Words Dependency.
This is not an ideology; it is a substantiated process. If we contribute to dependency, we contribute to poverty. If we contribute to poverty, we contribute to a higher morbidity and mortality rate. Charity kills.
© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle