Faced with the misery of some in this world, the capacity for sympathy and a selfless willingness to give is an expression of humanity. It is good and right to help the weak and needy facing real crisis. Anything else would be sheer cynicism. But at the same time it is worth reflecting that charitable giving aimed at relieving misery in specific concrete cases may unintentionally contribute to continued dependence, and even perpetuate or increase misery overall.
Those familiar with traditional practices in development aid know all about that. The free distribution of food or clothing by aid organizations can, within a short time, drive local producers, who are no longer able to sell their goods, to ruin. These small producers and their families then end up having to join the queue of people needing help.
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