The Rise of Humanitarianism

22 06 2011

It is not hard to see that there has been and is still a rising trend towards humanitarianism becoming the “in” thing. Tolerance has been a revered ‘virtue’ of the postmoderns, though its philosophical grounding of ‘relative truth’ has long been disproved, the sentiments of tolerance linger on. Many young people are looking to be a part of non-profit organizations, joining an NGO seems more virtuous than attaining a position at the CIA, and more and more businesses are using donation to charity as a way of advertising their commercial products (i.e. donating part of the purchase cost to charity). Even the most visited post on this blog is, to my surprise, the one concerning animal cruelty.

There is nothing wrong with being humanitarian. In effect, it produces a bunch of ‘nice people’. But there is a danger that I see manifesting itself more and more. As all fads are, the danger of humanitarianism as a fad is it only illustrates a surface change and “arms length” charity, and this can lead to, at worst, paternalism (kinda like cultural imperialism). This danger arises from the subtle error of not knowing the warrant for charity and humanitarianism. We rarely inquire into what our grounds for being humanitarian and performing humanitarian acts are. In other words, why is humanitarianism good and hip? I, for one, believe the answer lies somewhere in the discussion of justice, though I will not explore it further here. Instead, here is a list of issues to which we can pay attention, because even with the rise, there is a dearth of awareness for a lot of pressing issues.

(Each title leads to the organization’s website)

The Price of Sex

One Little Did

Restore NYC

The Supply

Charity: Water

International Justice Mission

Samaritan’s Purse

Unearthed Seoul




3 responses

22 06 2011

i’m going to need you to unpack this ‘danger’ thing more. you may be on to something, but us readers need you to do the thinking for us. otherwise, it’s just a hazy feeling.

22 06 2011
Paul Park

Hopefully it’s clear enough to start off some thoughts, I don’t like doing all the thinking. What are you hazy feelings, dear reader?

22 06 2011


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