From human emotions as diverse as love and greed, it is driven by impulses as opposed as responsibility and hedonism. It ennobles, just as surely as it corrupts. It gives meaning and it gives hope. Yet for all of the good that happens in its name, the promises it makes are too often not kept. Too often it is little more than a drug that dulls the pain of a symptom, but falls short of curing the illness.
Many speak of it with great authority, and many claim to speak for it. It is open to all, but few truly understand it.
It brings together people of all nations, kindreds and tongues for a common good. It is a dividing wedge that turns father against daughter, mother against son, and it is a sword that separates flesh from bone. It is a monument. It is a crumbling temple.
“forgive us, survivors of disaster, war and poverty, for we have sinned…”
* * *
It holds up the promise of a better world. A just world, an equitable world. It intimates the promise of a world of peace and prosperity, where human rights are not trampled underfoot and where widows and orphans are clothed and fed.
To faithful followers it holds the hope of absolution in this life, salvation in the next. It is a Heaven into which earthly treasure is laid up. To its acolytes and novices it is the purest of pursuits – a Holy Grail, intensely tangible, yet chimera, a mirage on the far horizon. It is a candle in a dimly lit room.
“do you solemly vow that you will faithfully uphold the Code of Conduct and follow Sphere standards…”
* * *
If we learn anything at all from the past twenty years, it should be that for all practical purposes Aid is a religion.