Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thinking Long-Term

I went to a talk today in Stahr where a representative from the International Justice Mission (IJM) spoke of the importance of good people doing something in order to combat evil. She even quoted Edmund Burke when he said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing." Although I have a very high degree of respect and admiration for IJM, I feel that they are not using their time, efforts, and resources as effectively as they can. IJM focuses too much on curing human rights abuses on a case-by-case basis. I think they could be a lot more effective if they used a more preventative strategy. For example, when a patient comes in with an ulcer, a doctor can prescribe medication to treat the ulcer, or she can take the more effective, preventative approach of understanding that the ulcer is a result of the patient's inability to handle a stressful situation. Advice on dealing with stressful situations, in this case, is more effective in the long-term than prescribing a drug. I feel that IJM should realize that ulcers will continue to occur as long as there is that stressful situation. Rather than trying to punish perpetrator on a case-to-case basis, they should work with province and national governments to promote education and economic development. If these conditions improve, human rights abuses will inevitably decrease.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While I agree with your "ulcer" logic, I was wondering if your criticism was a little harsh. Yes, it is necessary to know the causes of a problem, but regardless of the cause, any aliment still needs attention.

Have you thought about looking at this from another angle? Perhaps one of the problems that many larger human rights organizations face is that they mainly focus on the causes and the bigger picture but ignore the individual. They focus on the cause of the ulcer (war, poverty, governments) and on all ulcer patients, but sometimes disregard the nuances of each individual patient.

I think sometimes we get caught up in the term "human rights victims" which seems to almost generalize the experiences of hundreds, thousands of people. But we cannot ever forget that each person, each life, each experience is valuable, important, and meaningful. These are not just "human rights violations" they are actions against people whose backgrounds, lives, and experiences are as different as they students that make up F&M. Perhaps what the human rights sector needs is more organizations that focus on each patient and not just the sea of ulcers.

Of course, there are organizations that do make an effort to do this...but I was just wondering what your thoughts were on this!