To Donate, or not to Donate

After proposing to the management of my workplace that we do a drive for Haiti, they’ve asked me to decide where the money will go. At first, I was excited that management was supporting the idea, even modifying the drive to be a revenue-based donation. Then, I realized that it is a typical reactionary response to donate money, which is contrary to the mental model that I believe we, as a species, need to adopt. We are a very reactionary society, reacting with our first emotion that surfaces: anger when someone cuts us off driving, defensiveness when someone accuses or criticizes us, we even withhold information from those we love for fear of their reactions. Our reactions also run rampant with assumptions, which are often truths that we dislike within ourselves and we project onto others.  With these reactions, we make decisions for the short term and immediate relief.  I believe we need to learn to listen, to withhold our immediate reactions and swallow them back, to listen deeply to what’s unfolding before us. We can observe our own judgements, assumptions, egos, and respond with a greater picture of what is happening. I believe we need to think and act for the long term, to create a better world.

“We cannot solve the world’s problems with the same thinking that created them” – Einstein.

In regards to the earthquake in Haiti, I am now going to advise against donating to the immediate relief efforts and to direct the money into a long-term fund of sorts that will distribute the money in increments further down the road of recovery. The executive director of Oxfam said at the Montreal Summit for Haiti,

“It’s true that the world is coming together to provide support to Haiti to rebuild after the earthquake. But there are much more fundamental changes that are required in the global economic system and in Haiti’s government and society. The root causes of poverty in Haiti did not start with the earthquake.”

'Reactions' to Haiti's Earthquake do not address long-term, sustainability, a new approach to development is needed.

In an effort to support a paradigm shift in thinking and the fundamental changes of a messed up global economic system, I’m going to suggest we support a mindful, slow, long-term recreation of Port-au-Prince. They have a unique opportunity to grieve, accept what has happened, learn from the past, and build a community from the ground up. Perhaps with fewer people and more earthquake-ready infrastructure.


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