Check out this clever video of people from under-developed countries feigning the kinds of complaints you’d only hear in an affluent culture. How does this video affect you? Does it make you feel guilty, grateful, neither?
Solving third world problems requires a long-term commitment. Guilt can be a powerful motivator, but only for a very short distance. It is not difficult to prompt people to chip in for a cause by leveraging guilt. On the other hand, motivating folks to get into the mix with people who are disenfranchised is far more challenging. Short-term mission trips can energize people to get involved in a committed way; but sometimes it backfires, making people feel guilty, and then defensive, and then aloof. Sometimes when looking at the world of problems, people get overwhelmed. It can have a paralyzing effect, as in, “I’m just one person.”
However, when people engage materially poor communities life-on-life, when they experience the joy and richness of these cultures, even amidst their struggle, they sometimes return with a deeper gratitude for life. The best form of this gratitude is when it’s rooted in the dignity and worth of all human life rather than being thankful merely in comparison.
I have no tie to the sponsoring organization of this video, so I don’t know whether they are legit. Here are a few of my favorite organizations engaging the world of problems in a committed way, addressing both symptoms and causes.
What people and organizations do you know from first-hand experience doing great work?