Ethical Help

Sometimes when people vow to help a community that seems less fortunate, it becomes a show of “look what I’m doing to help” which inadvertently shines a negative light upon the way someone else lives. Then organizations try to pump it full of something the inhabitants don’t feel they’re missing – a certain religion, money, factories, jobs etc. When a natural disaster sweeps through a country, town, village, state etcetera and those that come to ‘help’ try to rebuild communities the way they want to rebuild them versus how the locals want, it becomes unethical help. A very different agenda than that of the people living in the area. On a smaller scale, an elderly family member of mine who was living alone, fell and broke her arm; my sister, a nurse, showed up to help. She first listened to the family discuss what needed to be done, found the void and then stepped in. She cleaned day and night and instead of organizing as she saw fit, she asked about every single item and what it meant – oftentimes the significance of each item was shared and then the decision to keep or donate was made until every item had a place and every place was scrubbed clean. The partnership resulted in a cleaner habitat that was ready for a team of healthcare employees to better assist along with any other person that popped in the door to help or visit. Had my sister flipped the script and tore through the house to organize it how she wanted it sans the opinion of anyone else, it may have been easier for her but a loss to the family member amongst many other changes. Rebuilding is hard – we are forced to realize what we’re missing when we lose something we perhaps thought would always be there. Being a helper is hard. Not only is it a service to another but it is letting go of our ego and saying I want to help your way. When we go on missions to help others, especially in places we have little to no knowledge about, we need to be cognizant about whose agenda we are fulfilling. If it is our own, we need to scrap our approach and wait for guidance. Ethical help is the only help if you ask me. If we are not helping from an empathetic ‘help-me-understand-what-you-need’ place; we are harming. Real help takes patience and genuine interest in one another – no strings attached.

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