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Big Aid!

Wednesday January 16th. A faint dusting of snow on Monday morning, a hard frost and a bright coloured dawn today, first hard frost we've seen here since the cold snap at the end of November. I saw on a newsstand paper, the "deep freeze" to persist until Valentine's day, but we shall see.

Big Aid! What Is It Good For?

Clicktivism I think I have a handle on. Click and sign, click and share, on a mailing by mailing basis, but no regular donations, no unreserved endorsement, as I know for a fact (facts of course readily available) that I don't by any means support all their campaigns. Other small, case-specific operations likewise: I know where I am with Compassion In World Farming. But (continuing my blog thoughts on the humanitarian aid industry, see Christmas Is A Time For Giving), what's going on now with that new, improved faith hope and charity based benevolent religion "Human Rights"? Supposed (like Islam, btw) to replace the flawed Christianity model;founded in the UK, Western Europe, and the US, in the post-WWII Age of the Liberal State; and now on the brink, or over the brink, of going global: escaping from the dwindling shadow of the so-called West, the way Christianity burst out of a small corner of the Eastern Mediterranean basin.

From the Acts Of The Apostles to the mighty Mediaeval Papacy in five or six decades, that's really quite an achievement: but there are costs, and some may say the costs have been considerable. Humanitarian Aid for a war-torn African nation can end up in the cynical hands of the combatants, allowing them to prolong the agony for their own advantage. Skilled, courageous professional volunteers can end up the dupes of the perpetrators of genocide. Closer to our own time, uncomfortably close indeed, the work of "Western" Aid Agencies can be implicated as tools of a "Western" occupying army, with predictable, devastating results, both immediate and enduring. Better by far then, in future, for the aid concept to be visibly and actually independent of the White West. The movement has move, bodily, to the places where it can be genuinely important. And maybe make whatever compromises are necessary; to be seen as a valid organisation, and have influence under local conditions. It's been done before, and it worked (sort of, partially, but better than nothing). You start by being crucified and thrown to the lions...exhilerating but tricky in terms of expanding the operation. You become Caesar! Problem solved!

But is globalization on the international corporate model really the answer? No longer one of the problems, but the big solution? The logo, the brand, the landmark offices, the impressive, macho CEO salary? Financial gain, economic growth and territorial expansion, as the measures of success? Last Saturday I was at an Extraordinary General Meeting, where the UK section of probably the world's most respected Human Rights organisation debated (essentially) these issues. They're all doing it. Going global is the big idea in charities all round, but I came away unconvinced.

I'm thinking about it, and meanwhile I'm reviewing my own modest list of regular donations. Giving is a nice thing to do. I'll hold up my hand, yes, I find it a pleasurable activity. But I don't want to be one of those charitable ladies who just likes knitting socks for the Poor Black Babies, and doesn't want to know whether the Poor Black Babies actually need the socks. Or whether the socks are even getting to the babies...Or how much it costs to run the company that handles the export. Or any of that.

I'm looking for horizontal-style payscales, I'm looking for human rights defenders "on the ground" already. Small operations, start-ups, maybe that idea about micro-investments?

Not that I'm giving up on the big hitters, not at all. I'm just, like I say, reviewing the situation.

Watching Went to see Les Miz last night. It was okay, although I'm glad I didn't pay for the stage show. A few problems, such as being very, very long, too many lashings of artificial squalor on the giant stage sets, having no good tunes (not even I dreamed a dream, in my opinion), and far to much conviction that there's nothing so dreadful a few candles and a chap in a white lacy frock won't put right. But it was a fine spectacle, with knowing that Victor Hugo did, really and truly, get his hands dirty in the 1848 affair, providing an assist. Tom Sutcliffe in the independent (I think) complained Les Miz makes le peuple in their poverty, and on the barricades, look rather horrid. Hm. He doesn't know much about revolutions, that's all I can say.


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