Monday, May 9, 2016
Excellent commentary on international development from Teju Cole
This is a nuanced, insightful article from Teju Cole (whose novels I've not yet read, though I think I really should) about international development, privilege, and how an individual can be a good person and even be correct on their surface-level analysis of a situation, while at the same time unthinkingly contributing to very bad larger trends and being totally mistaken in their response when seen in a larger, more complex context of things. The author calls for his First-World readers to have more respect for the agency (read the ability to help themselves) of those in the developing world, while also beseeching his readers to act in their own contexts, pressuring their own governments and companies to cease doing wrong in the rest of the world. In the end Cole is not advocating against contributing to a noble campaign or emergency relief effort, but rather he advocates in favor of keeping the larger structural issues in mind even as you make the best immediate decisions and actions that you can.