Friday, December 16, 2005

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Many Greens would accept at face value the proposition that giving food to starving people is a good thing. I certainly do. But that can not be the end of the story. Believe it or not, the evidence is that giving food to starving people can lead to systemic problems that can ultimately lead to dependence, loss of self rule, the establishment of a permanent refugee class, and military conflict.

Of course we all know this, but how many of us feel the pull of the comfort zone of giving a few dollars every month to a direct aid effort? Of course those funds are needed more than we can imagine. But the old adage about feeding a hungry person versus teaching a hungry person how to feed herself has a basis in fact.

But a starving child cannot learn how to read, much less learn how to feed herself. A weakened man, unable to feed or properly shelter his family, cannot be expected to, alone and unaided, establish a means of providing for them. So, what do we Greens do in the face of such confusing and contradictory challenges? Wish I knew.

One strength, however, of the Green Party is our International nature. Between European Greens, where developmental foreign aid is not as controversial, and Greens in the effected countries, we should be able to put together a comprehensive plan to end global starvation by a date certain. We in the United States will have a role to play, and a vital one, but we are so distant from the problem by-and-large that it may make sense to count on the International Green Movement to develop a plan to address these issues.

A personal favorite for foreign aid and development issues is Bread for the World. Please let us know which groups you think are doing a good job of helping address these issues.
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