15 September 2013

Day 247: Only in a Broken System does Misery equal Profit

cn_image.size_.trips-with-benefits-voluntourism-illustration-0213.png.scaled1000 Growing up and living in a First World Country where your Basic Human Rights are actually ‘met’ (albeit through considerable compromises) – you are made sure to be reminded of the many places and many people who are not in the same fortunate position as you’re in. “Empty your plate, don’t you know there’s starving children in Africa who don’t have anything to eat?”, “You should be happy going to school, in country XYZ they don’t get even get to go to school because there aren’t any”, “Stop whining, in country SomethingSomething you’d be living on the street by now”.

The message that gets ingrained is “Don’t complain, you should be happy – out there it is HELL”. So not only is one molded into an obedient citizen, made sure to ‘not bite the hand that feeds it’, we also get imprinted with immense guilt for having the niceties we have – knowing fully that if we had been born somewhere else, things would look a whole lot different.

So, what do we law-abiding-guilt-bearing-citizens do? Once in a while, as we get some ‘time-off’ from being a wage-slave – we want to go and do some ‘good’ in the world. We sign up to take care of the poor people, the less fortunate, the parentless, the hopeless, the marginalized and abused ones ‘out there’. We grab together our hard-worked savings and pay some travelling company to go work somewhere for free.

We are getting our holiday, we’re helping those poor people – it’s a Win-Win situation, right?
Is this ‘voluntourism’ phenomenon an expression of our altruism and good hearts? Or is it just another way devised by a crooked system to make money out of whatever will tickle our fancy?
In fact, 'voluntourism', as it's been dubbed, is the fastest growing travel sector, worth an estimated £1.3 billion globally.
Let us have a look at how the market responds to our demand for Guilt-Relief and Exotic Holidays:
'I thought, even if I can make a jot of difference, it's got to be worth it. So I started looking on the internet. Eventually, I came across an orphanage called the Dream House on the borders of Thailand and Burma, which rescued children at risk of being trafficked. There were videos on the website and it all looked amazing.'
A Thai charity, Starfish, was offering two-week voluntary placements at the orphanage for £400, with basic accommodation included.
Caroline paid in advance, and in January this year she travelled to Thailand. On arrival, she met other volunteers, many of them teenagers on their gap years, all signed up to help at the orphanage.
But within days of starting the placement, Caroline sensed that something was seriously wrong. 'I was pretty shocked at the conditions,' she says. 'The children slept on the floor - although there wasn't even a floor, just carpet underlay - with no beds or blankets. The youngest was only two years old.
'At dinner, they had one chicken between 29 children and a few vegetables. All the volunteers were coming in and giving £200 a week. So where was all the money going?'
Ah… the ways of Supply and Demand: you wish to relieve your guilt – and so we shall provide you with the opportunity to do so. The ways of the free market are cold; the market does not look at your intentions, the market does not care about the repercussions of serving demands – all it does is reek money and provide the quickest and best way to cash it in.

We end up with fake orphanage centers with children trained to act according to our idea of what ‘poor orphans on the other side of the world’ act like – because that is the experience we desire, and our money bring to life such an attraction.
The shocking revelation has been that volunteers, who have intentions to give some love back to children in real need, are tragically and inadvertently having the opposite effect.'
Not only are we maintaining the atrocities we would like to see eradicated within the world, we are in effect enhancing them and not in any way whatsoever addressing the very system, the very design which is responsible for them in the first place. After all, what this ‘voluntourism’ point illustrates, is that we cannot address the symptoms of a broken system through utilizing the same broken system as medium towards a solution.
'One volunteer I heard of turned up to teach at a school, and wondered why he didn't get a very warm reaction. Towards the end of his time there he discovered the local teacher had been fired because a Westerner was coming in to teach for free.'
In a world driven and moved by profit only, we cannot expect to alleviate poverty or alleviate the hardship of people through a profit-driven medium, as it is the very profit starting point, the worshipping of profit/money over Life/People – that lies at the heart of the problem, that pumps and thrusts its poison all throughout the body, leaving no area untouched.

While we see the hardship of remote places on our television screen, we want to travel to those distant places in the belief that the problem and solution lie in the same place. There is actually little that can be done by travelling to the other side of the world for a few weeks / a year and trying to alleviate the symptoms of a much darker dis-ease. It’s not by coincidence or genuine will to ‘work hard’ that we’ve created a Safe First World Bubble for ourselves. We need only to flip through history to see that we’ve acquired our wealth and security through the exploitation of others. In the past in direct forms, through conquest, through colonization – and today indirectly through economic ties whose nature and flow had already been determined, shaped and solidified within the previous Era of exploitation, now merely extending the same relationship in a different form – but really, nothing has changed.

Unless we change the values and principles of the system at home that we live by, we are not going to be able to bring about change ‘out there’. We are the power-center that maintains the problem, if we want to bring about change – we are right where we need to be.

The first step towards a global effect is to put into place the values and principles we want to live by and that we want to see others live by. A good place to start, would be the enforcement and safeguarding of Human Rights which can practically be employed through the implementation of a Living Income Guaranteed. Since the Right to Life has been historically linked to the ownership of money, making sure that everyone has enough money/funds available to live a dignified life is an absolute must.
To find out more about the Living Income Guaranteed, please visit:
http://livingincome.me and http://livingincomguaranteed.wordpress.com

All quotes from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2418074/Fake-orphanages-Bogus-animal-sanctuaries-And-crooks-growing-rich-Western-gullibility--gooding-gap-year-holidays-horrifyingly-callous-con.html
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