04 March 2008

Dependency… A Bad Word!

Over the last 2+ years… a time when I’ve actually been interested in missions for the first time in my life… a buzz word of sorts has been the term… self-sustaining…

Everyone wants to start a self-sustaining project or help an existing project become self-sustaining (this stat is taken from 2+ years of random conversations experienced by 1 missionary in Uganda)…

Dependency is a bad word… no one wants to start a dependent project or help a project remain dependant (again this stat is taken from 2+ years of random conversations experienced by 1 missionary in Uganda)…

So the answer is easy… create or move towards self-sustaining projects and end all dependency… this is an example of sarcasm… because sadly too many think that the movement towards self-sustaining is this easy…

In the book The White Man’s Burden… of which I am about to paraphrase so poorly that the author William Easterly should sue me… my apologizes but my copy is 8 time zones away… Easterly proposes that the Western World is looking for a BIG IDEA… example from Bono – lets all buy RED and stop world hunger…. Timeout!... even though Bono is my negative example I still love him and I believe he is doing more than 98.7% of the world to stop world hunger… the problem is that BIG IDEAS don’t work… in the last 5 decades the Western World has given 3.2 Trillion dollars in aide to Africa with little to show for it… at least not 3.2 Trillion to show for it…

So William Easterly proposes… SMALL IDEAS… again these are not the exact words so he might sue me… what I mean is he proposes that the solution begins with the individual instead of trying to change the whole continent… Timeout!... How many of you have ever referred to Africa as a country? …Just curious…

I am coming to believe that the cycle of dependency ends with the individual… the challenge I face in helping to end this cycle is that I live in a country whose government is dependant on aide… in that country I live in a community dependent on aide… in that community I work with a church dependant on aide… in that church I work with an NGO dependent on aide… in that NGO I am part of a Bible College dependant on aide… and so as a result my students are dependent on aide just to enter the school… and I also work with a computer whose spell-check allows me to type dependent and dependant… which one is it?

Back to the story… there is a long chain to be broken…. and I’m not racing to destroy a chain until I am sure that I won’t create a bigger problem for those I am trying to help… the answer is not to stop giving altogether but to start thinking about how we are giving…

Much more to be discussed… about this bad word!

1 comment:

kate said...

Interesting blog. I have found myself totally dependent on God recently when in the past eight years have been dependent only on myself and corporate America. That hasn't worked out and now God is my total provider. Not sure what the answers are but I know that there is a famous quote which I love, "God made the world rich enough to feed and clothe every human being" - Mother Theresa

I am enjoying reading your blogs very much. Thank you for writing them. I am learning so much through the experiences you share here.