Friday, 10 April 2009


Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds - George Eliot

This may seem a fairly odd topic to discuss, but the concept of helping another is somewhat troubling me. Possibly the most important query that I have, is how do we know we are actually doing good? For example, when we donate a sum of money to a third world country, we believe we're helping them, do we not? But ultimately, will that money ever be enough? Realistically, probably not. It's possible that a better alternative would be to provide these countries with fair trading standards. Give them a fair price for the materials they produce. At the end of the day, that will give them a way of sustaining themselves. Similarly, if a country is in dire need of water, we seem to merely ship in vast quanties to water. Surely a more helpful alternative would be to give them the tools, and teach them to build their own wells. But then whilst this seems like a good theory, building wells is impossible for 70-80% of non industrialised Africa/Asia.

Another case in point is voluntary work. If you are raising X amount of money in order to enable you to visit a poorer country and 'help', would it not be more beneficial to give them that money to employ someone local to do the job? Not only would these people know the area better, but it would also help the country economically, giving more people jobs and thus lowering the unemployment rates.

Bringing this topic closer to home, let us take the example of an alcholic. If you are trying to help someone suffering from alcoholism, is dragging them to therapy every week actually in their best interests? Sure, in the short term it may prevent them from further liver damage, but in the long run, is this really helping them? The more you do for someone, the less they have to do for themself, and thus the question arises of whether you're actually doing good. Perhaps sometimes people need to be allowed to make mistakes before they can change.

Another issue, is that it seems to be common belief that when helping people, the point at which it becomes detrimental to you, it stops benefiting them. I don't fully understand this. If the person needs to talk, then it doesn't matter how much it is affecting you because it is still being of help to them. Perhaps you are the one person whom they can trust, and therefore how is not listening to them purely because it is damaging you not helping them still? We were all put on this earth to provide a service. Every person, no matter who they are, provides a service of some kind. Therefore if someone is seeming to be in need of our assistance, who are we to deny it them?

I dont know, I find it an interesting concept - how we can actually help someone. I think a lot of the time it's something which needs to be played by ear. Once again, should you have any thoughts on the content of this entry, feel free to leave comments...

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