Thursday, March 13, 2008

Blattman's cheap shot.... ;-)

Chris Blattman takes a cheap shot at.... well.... us? Surely not me? And not Kate! But others, definitely. The development tourist. It's food for thought. What are you (the short timer volunteer) actually doing? Is your short trip a morally and practically desirable thing? Do you consume more resources by your trip than services provided? Chris seems to have in mind that instead of paying $3,000 for your round-trip plane ticket, visa, hotel, taxi, food at the airport, you simply make a donation to... well, he doesn't say to whom. For the record, I totally disagree with Chris. For a whole set of reasons, but mostly because I don't think the short-term development tourist does any harm, and because I think it is morally dubious to condemn someone who heads down the right path for not doing enough! It's like condemning a person who has decided to eat less meat out of ecological and moral concerns for animals, saying they are a hypocrite for still eating some meat. There is little virtue in pointing out the failings of people who are trying to be righteous, but aren't completely righteous. This kind of moral reasoning (if you can't do it completely right, then you are an awful person) is terrible for the book trade, because buying a book to read yourself is always the wrong thing to do... to be above reproach you have to borrow it from your local public library. (You knew I had to get libraries in there somewhere.)

Ironically, on TV here at the Grand Hotel in Khartoum is Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz as development tourists in Tanzania....

No comments: