Saturday, September 24, 2011

'Do no harm'... were you ever taught this?: Ethical poverty of poverty-professionals

It is another era, another century, still the dominant western discourse travels far and wide. Altruistic white dudes, paradoxically made of 'selfish genes' from a morally neutral world, still find ways to have some guilt-sans-religion (was it original sin in secular form?) about privilege and tour distant lands (some call it development tourism).

A cosmology of heroic 'battles with poverty' seems more attractive as well as morally superior, to the heroic adventures of finding new land or capturing them. While making great stories to tell back home.
All the time developing an underdeveloped world, paying loads of money from landladies to auto-wallas, to distant NGOs ... and in case this is non-sustainable and one gets broke monetary, one can always start entertaining the idea of making mobile-porn, to earn to serve. For sex is just a biological need and can even make social service sustainable, no moral hitches for exploiting lower rungs of Maslow's hierarchy, while we climb it higher. On some level everything is sold like that... after all people do buy it!
Guess, philanthropy always works in cycles, earning while creating some problems, spending while solving some other!

This is all well done with academic cultural sensitivity by reading the right books and attending the right trainings: keep away from ex-pats (but stay in its presiding deity's temple, till she throws you out for crossing some of her sacred rules :).
What else, wear local, take up local language class even if you sleep thru it all. Add some more like follow movies, cheer the local cricket team with others, and explore exotic food and women. And yes one has to come across humble - 'sweetness personified'. It is another matter, this happens while writing papers about amazingly irrelevant trials, building networks and CVs.

Women, well, following local rules of sleeping were not part of the course on how not to live and eat as neo-colonials. What can they do if not date here when here, though temporarily. Play by their own rules of the games, on unequal level, for who cares if others don't even know 'its all a game'. Not only treat others as objects for one's own need fulfillment, but wear 'caring' only till one is urged into dishonesty by another convenient & attractive option. And then show one's true colors- of icy coldness & calculated rudeness, by voices of common-sense dissent.

They say in a market economy one 'makes an exit/ leaves' a service provider when one is not satisfied. But with people we don't do that, we voices our concerns, we negotiate. Treating people like shops and restaurants is repulsive.

So, all in all, sometimes we have to come to terms with such hidden dark dimensions of people whom we collectively adore. World still shocks me into awakening by its horror stories...
(guess this is all about growing-up... delayed milestones ... retarded though!).

(Interestingly, my amazing lab of white & black mothers, loving & protective, are often so concerned that there should be no damage to the kid who entered their world, when she goes back to her own mom. So, I do wonder was it really about being 'white', or about being 'altruistic poverty professional', or about being an 'insensitive technocrat', or about being a 'dude' which is so damaging in 'another' world).

(some interesting stuff here and this is hilarious)

(PS: I acknowledge this post is a little mean, a little unfair... a little unlike me also, but what the hell, it was therapeutic, and subjectively true ;)

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