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Resources for Good Practice
Update August 2013

Member Care in Mission/Aid

Healing Humanity

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This month we highlight four perspectives (resources) on healing some of humanity’s ills. As with all the materials in the Updates, the goal is to help us connect/contribute across sectors as part of our commitment to support mission/aid workers with quality member care. All four resources in this Update are 5-10 years old—chosen intentionally as a reminder that our current challenges as humans are ubiquitous and long-standing, involving both “problems without passports” and “problems without time clocks.”
The first set of resources focuses on the influence of personal faith for helping humanity (Bono’s “Grace over Karma” and Nicholas Kristof’s “Evangelicals a Liberal Can Love”). The second set of resources focuses on the influence of international organizations in helping humanity (National Geographic’s “Hope in Hell” and Shashi Tharoor’s “The Good for Something United Nations”). We finish with a link to a blog commentary about seven “bad examples” of humanitarian help. Check it out to see if you agree with the blogger.

Warm greetings from Geneva,
Kelly and Michèle O’Donnell

What’s wrong with the world?
I am.
G.K. Chesterton

Detail from da Messina (angel weeping) circa 1475
Healing Humanity
Personal Faith

--Grace over Karma, Bono (interview on Ratio Christi’s weblog)
Was Jesus Christ really a nutcase?
“If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s--- and everybody else's. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that's the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it…“ [Interview excerpted from the book
Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas (2005).]
More Bono:
Yahweh (U2 music video)

--Evangelicals a Liberal Can Love, Nicholas Kristof
Faith and love are no respecters of political leanings.
“In parts of Africa where bandits and warlords shoot or rape anything that moves, you often find that the only groups still operating are Doctors Without Borders and religious aid workers: crazy doctors and crazy Christians. In the town of Rutshuru in war-ravaged Congo, I found starving children, raped widows and shellshocked survivors. And there was a determined Catholic nun from Poland, serenely running a church clinic…” [NY Times, February 3, 2008]
More Kristof:
A Million Rainbows (brief photo report about orphans in China)


Healing Humanity
International Organizations


Hope in Hell, National Geographic (Edward Girardet, part two)
When the world forgets, who comes to help?
“As the Malaysian army helicopter lurched forward, hugging the western coastline of Indonesia's tsunami-battered Aceh Province, I clung to the half-open portal, mesmerized by the devastation that unfolded below me. The few trees that had survived the watery onslaught of just a couple weeks ago stood like solitary sentinels along newly created shorelines and inlets. It was as if the wooden homesteads and rice fields in these Indian Ocean communities had been carefully—and diabolically—plucked up from the Earth. For close to two miles inland the muddy land was shorn of any trace of human existence. Then, just on the other side of the "front line," where the tsunami's surge had run out of impetus, I could see the tiny figures of farmers tending rice fields and children playing in the mango trees…”

More National Geographic:
Hope in Hell (photo-video version/summary]

Image courtesy IRIN

The Good for Something United Nations, Shashi Tharoor
Sure it is flawed, but where would we be without the UN?
“The single greatest problem facing the United Nations is that there is no single greatest problem—rather, there are a dozen different ones each day clamoring for attention. Some, like the crisis in Lebanon, the Palestinian situation and the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea, are obvious and trying. Others we call “problems without passports”—issues that cross all frontiers uninvited, like climate change, drug trafficking, human rights, terrorism, epidemic diseases, and refugee movements. Their solutions, too, can recognize no frontiers because no one country or group of countries, however rich or powerful, can tackle them alone. The key to all of them is strengthening the capacities of both the United Nations and its members. Here’s how…”  [Newsweek (Atlantic Edition) 31 January 2005, Vol. 145 Issue 5, page 17]
More Tharoor:
Why America Still Meeds the United Nations  (Council on Foreign Relations, Sept/Oct 2003)  

Final Thoughts

 Do no harm.
Hippocratic Oath, 4th century BC

Seven Worst International Aid Ideas
“Maybe their hearts were in the right place. Maybe not. Either way, these are solid contenders for the title of “worst attempts at helping others since colonialism…”“ [Matador Network, Richard Stupart, 20 February 2012]

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The resources in these Updates help us as learners-practitioners to cross cultures, disciplines, and sectors for good practice.