Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Dependence or Independence

On Saturday morning my oldest daughter asked me to fix her a bagel for breakfast. I responded by giving her the same answer most good fathers would give to a 9-year-old daughter. I told her to fix it herself. You would have thought I told her to invade Iran all by herself.

After enduring the crying, and whining, and begging for about ten minutes, I was finally able to convince her to a least open the bag of bagels, get a knife, and start to cut the bagel in half. I helped her cut the bagel in half, but then after the bagel was toasted, I had to endure another five minutes of crying when I told her she needed to spread her own cream cheese. She ended up running to her room screaming that she didn’t want the bagel anyway.

So I turned to my 6-year-old daughter and asked her if she wanted the bagel. My youngest daughter walked over to the counter, took a knife, spread some cream cheese on the bagel and started eating it without saying a single word.

I don’t pretend for a second to understand all of the complexities of human nature. Most of my theories about human nature have been challenged and some of my theories have been changed as I raise two daughters. However, I am quite certain that people change and adapt based on situations and circumstances. I am also certain that the basic instinct of almost all people is to survive and to do whatever it takes in order to survive.

Throughout the drought stricken parts of Africa right now there are many people who would refuse help regardless of how dire their current situation was. There are also some people who are mentally and physically incapable of caring for themselves and who need assistance in order to survive. Additionally, there are many people similar to my daughters. Some of these people are like my youngest daughter who only need a little encouragement and possibly a little role modeling. Some of these people are like my oldest daughter on Saturday who need to be told they will no longer be helped because they are fully capable of doing for themselves everything they need to do in order to survive. These are the people who will be helped the most in the long run by learning self sufficiency.

The aid organizations and the aid programs to Africa are creating serious problems by not differentiating between the types of people who need aid and the types of people who want and expect aid. Until these organizations are able to discern and differentiate, it is time to stop all of the aid. It is time to stop creating problems where none existed before aid started.

My oldest daughter got up Sunday morning and fixed her own bagel. Amazing? No, common sense.

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