Sunday, March 13, 2011

Teach a man to fish....

Well, first, let's pretend that this old saying says "teach a person to fish"..... but all that aside....

Otherwise, I'm watching Secret Millionaire right now and thinking about what these millionaires are trying to do. It is definitely pretty darn inspiring - especially looking at the "average" person who doesn't have the kind of time and money to go to a new community and spend some time getting to know new organizations but those who volunteer in the communities in which they work, live, play, sometimes struggle and try to make ends meet. These volunteers (like the volunteers on the show today) have so much less than so many others (like the secret millionaire on the show) and yet they give what they do have to help make their communities better places for their children and their neighbours.

Now, I think that what they're doing is absolutely beautiful, particularly when there's so much trash (that I enjoy watching.... is this a full disclosure moment?) on TV. And I think that private charity is a beautiful thing also (the "secret millionaire" just gave away $40,000 to a very, very deserving charity). He said, when he gave away one of his cheques, that good things do happen to good people. And I think that good people like him should help make that happen.

That said, I remember learning once that the idea of the very right-wing way that the United States were put together was that the government's role wasn't to help out the people who needed that help the most: that private charities are more apt to help these people out.

Back to the title of this post - I was thinking that, yes, if we teach people to help themselves they will be better off than if we just help them. And that's not saying that these wonderful gifts that these "secret millionaires" and everyday philanthropists shouldn't share what they've been blessed (or whatever word suits you) to have.

I guess my question is, "is it working"?

I don't live in the US, and I think that Canadians are considerably better off than our neighbours to the South (so I really don't know), but maybe it's time to look at making some changes. Doesn't it seem fair that at this point, every citizen should have effective, affordable (or free), accessible health care?

I guess that really what I'm thinking is that sometimes what was a good idea "in the beginning" (even though many would argue that point) may not be a good idea later. I read somewhere recently (I think it was quoted in Transforming Power by Judy Rebick) that neo-liberalism (but this could apply to my thought as well, I think) is like a train that is speeding along tracks and the conductor has fallen asleep with his/her foot on the accelerator - so the train is still speeding ahead but nobody is steering it. I think that's an appropriate metaphor for this - that someone needs to re-evaluate the course of where we're going.

Again, I'm not sure if I came up with any kind of theory or consistent thought, but these were the thoughts going through my mind while watching random Sunday night TV and trying to kick this fever.

Hopefully something to think about.


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