Church of Aid

25 Jan

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.

“in the name of Henri Dunant, Florence Nightingale, and the Humanitarian Principles…”
* * *
To practicing clergy it is both blessing and curse: it is mastered and refined over a lifetime. And yet, understanding its inner secrets is innocence lost, like the taste of fruit from a forbidden tree. It is a path not easily turned back from.

“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.

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13 Responses to “Church of Aid”

  1. Texas in Africa 25 January, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    This is so good that I’m going to forgive you for using it’s when you meant its. :)

    • J. 25 January, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

      it’s been revised… ;)

  2. Carol 25 January, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Don’t even know what to say. Inspires some soul-searching, and is beautifully written on top of that. Great post.

  3. angelica 27 January, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    wow, I’m speechless, and you KNOW that never happens. bravo!

  4. G.Gaston 2 February, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    I applaud the author for the extended simile. I personally have never thought of aid in this sense, and this blog post has certainly helped my perception of aid. I do believe that a lot of countries and their people need aid, if nothing more than to raise the standard of living. And just like faith it drives people to want better for their fellow man. However, unlike faith, aid is often laced with politics and the situation becomes less innocent than intended.

    • Martha Cook 7 February, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

      >>However, unlike faith, aid is often laced with politics and the situation becomes less innocent than intended.>>

      But the thing is, that’s why this post is so great. Religion is RIFE with politics. And not just historically when they were unabashedly the same thing. But now. Everywhere. Including Iran and the US.

    • J. 7 February, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

      You know, I’m going to go ahead and agree with Martha on this one. Among other things, it was the fact that aid – very much like religion – is so very susceptible to being manipulated, mishandled and tainted by politics which led me to write this post in the first place.

  5. LEL0001 3 February, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    I really enjoyed this simile. The church is all of this to people. I aggree that aid is a religion. I agree because aid gives people hope, It brings people together, and at the same time aid can be a blessing when it succeeds and a curse when it fails. AId just like a religion or a curse can also make promises it never keeps.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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