More Than a Good Deed

Gedeline stood frail next to me, her body quaking with every breath. In that moment, hugging the Haitian girl’s fragile frame, I would have done anything to preserve her precious life. When we got out of the car at the clinic, my colleague handed her father a check for her medical bills. His eyes welled with joyful tears, and we left, our hearts warm from our “good deed.”

Many would consider any philanthropy responsible citizenship, but what does responsibility in the arena of humanitarianism truly mean?

Anyone can do a good deed, but does everyone consider the consequences of their work? Well-meaning first-world citizens act with concern for immediate consequences, mindless of long-term impact and irresponsibly stewarding assets. Responsible citizenship in humanitarianism is repercussion-minded action. One million American charities attempt to achieve a greater good in the majority world and in underserved areas, but many fail to consider the rippling effects of their efforts. Those who work for sustainable goals often find their worst enemy not to be the poverty enveloping the marginalized groups but rather other charitable efforts that have created dependence and crippled communities.

With the check that my colleague and I happily handed out, we may have torn down years of work to encourage established communities to produce internal solutions for their brokenness. But the answer to destructive philanthropy is not anti-philanthropy. To truly pursue responsible citizenship, we must be mindful that we are using methods of development that are beneficial not just now but also in twenty years.

– Amberle Durano, TCU Student

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