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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Haiti Missionaries: When "Helping You" Is About Me Feeling Good

It's all about me.

Every so often we hear news reports of wide-eyed American evangelical missionaries going to uncivilized warrens in the Third World to "help" their people.   This harkens back to the days of the Colonial French and their "civilizing mission," under which much evil was done.

This week we read about the evangelical missionaries who went to Haiti after the earthquake, allegedly to rescue children.  They were arrested, possibly on nothing else but a fear that they were really there to kidnap defenseless children under the rubric of a humanitarian purpose.

Let's get something straight.  Many of these missionary efforts -- in fact, much of what passes for charity -- consist of nothing more than the narcissism of their members.   These so-called relief efforts not about "helping" other people.   They are about people wanting to feel good about themselves, generating good publicity and in some cases padding a resume.  Actual help going downstream is a collateral, incidental benefit.

Be forewarned:  Those who have evil motives rarely reveal them.  There is a stated motive, and then there is a real motive.  Scrutiny should be the buzzword of the day with these groups.

Eric Dixon is an attorney in New York and New Jersey who handles investigative matters in addition to civil litigation.   He engages in strategic analysis and legal analysis, and comments regularly on legal, economic and political issues.

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