Countries in the Third World are most often not really poor. The biggest problem of the poor is that the country’s wealth is poorly shared amongst its citizens. The power and the funds have always remained concentrated in the hands of the small top layer of society. The First World’s influence has been essential to the maintenance of this inequality within the Third World, because of our financial and political support to the powerful elite in poor countries.
The First World supports the powerful elite in Third World countries, and works together with it, out of business interests. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and First World governments are primarily interested in gaining political and economic power. In everything these global players do, they try to protect the First World’s influence on Third World’s politics and to look after the multinational companies’ interests. Their development aid programs I therefore call corruption-subsidies. These corruption-subsidies are incentives the First World gives to corrupt Third World leaders, so these leaders will accept trading-conditions, which are only beneficial to multinational companies (MNCs). The MNCs are the real world power.
In order to look deeper in the mechanisms which serve the MNCs’ interests and that help global poverty to increase, in spite of (or thanks to) half a century of development aid, we first need to pay attention to global lending. Why does the IMF and other parties lend money to the Third World? To help them? I don’t think so. If we look at who benefits from them, we see three main profiteers: the IMF, who receives interest until the money is returned, often this never happens; the receiving president, who very often shares the money foremost amongst family and friends of his interest; and the MNCs, who profit from the lending-conditions imposed by the IMF, which are designed to serve these big companies. The ones, who pay the benefits of these three parties, are the tax-payers in the Third World. As the richest people don’t pay taxes in most Third World countries I’ve visited, mostly the lower and middle class pay the price, instead of benefiting from our “development aid”. And the money for schooling and health care goes into debt-service.
If the First World would really want to help the Third World, they would remit all debts of Third World countries and they would stop lending them money. The First World would give or not give money to poor countries or to poor people and respect their independence. Recent history has shown that we don’t want the Third World to become independent. So therefore development aid is a farce as it is today and we can call this period in time the neo-colonial era.
I do realize there are many aid-workers with good intentions, and some Non-Governmental Organizations with noble ideas, but if the global power-structures remain the same, only looking after the interests of the powerful, there’s no way to change things for the good. What we give with one hand, is being taken away with the other.
When you realize that the global institutions, the Third World governments and the multinational companies, don’t want the Third World to develop and that they refuse to do the right thing to fight poverty, how can you help the poor then? That’s the question from which have arisen the NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations).
They have their own ideas and ideals with which they want to eradicate poverty in the Third World. The NGOs address the people in the First World who have a feeling of guilt towards the impoverished Third World and they offer a way to prove their solidarity towards the poor by making donations. They collect lots of money and try to think of ways to help the development of the Third World. The NGOs base their aid programs on the universal basic human needs, like food, education, know-how and health care. Lately there has become a shift of attention towards the sustainability of development aid. If it is about durable aid, given only once, that develops itself autonomously afterwards, this is an important step forward. But a successful, practical realization of this popular word is not an easy task.
The problem of realizing a durable effect of one-time aid is that you’ll need a profound understanding of the system in which you want to intervene. In nature you can’t just remove big numbers of animals to other territories, without disturbing the ecosystem. We have already seen the disastrous effect of such a short-sighted human intervention in nature. In the same way we can’t just like that intervene in the Third World’s socio-economic landscape, without causing unintended and unwanted side-effects.
So if you want to give development aid, you should firstly break down all of the structures of dependence. The first two independence-supporting actions would have to be the remission of the debts of all heavily indebted countries, and the prohibition of offering these countries national loans. The neo-colonial period would come to an end and it would be up to the people to choose their own leaders without external interference. And if the elections would be fraudulent, it would be up to the people to turn the tables. Without the international community supporting the corruption with funds, the people would have a chance to break the power-block in their own country. I think that would be independence, an essential condition to structural development.
Still I wouldn’t say that NGOs can’t fulfil a role of any importance. What would become of all the idealists who want to improve the world outside of themselves? But seriously, I agree with them that we shouldn’t wait for the neo-colonial period to end, because before the economic power finds out that they can make much more profit on production and trade of their goods, if there would be a better spreading of wealth in the world, they will be overtaken by the environmentalist-lobby, who’ll say that there are not enough natural resources to produce enough consumer-goods for global wealth to exist. How many cars would take care of the destruction of Africa, if every family could have one?
But waiting is not a good way of dealing with the overwhelming current of economical refugees that try to cross the American and European frontiers every day. So how do we create a development aid, which puts the word sustainability into practice, in a way that the local people understand and embrace it, and which therefore doesn’t disrupt their society? My answer: We don’t know that.
We can’t imagine what a nation, living in a completely different kind of reality, needs. We don’t know if a village or tribe is looking for materialistic development, in the same way as the European and American nations have developed. We have no idea about the complete impact of our interference. If you want to see a good example of this, you should watch “The Gods Must Be Crazy”. This film from Botswana pictures the disrupting effect of a Coca Cola-bottle on a tribe of bush-men. The kind of seduction and consecutive disturbance of peace we see in this film, is similar to the first contacts between the Spanish, bringing their mirrors and shimmering necklaces, and the indigenous tribes of South-America. By introducing rare goods and the idea of possession to the indigenous tribes, they introduced selfishness into the newly discovered continent. Together with the tactic to make different tribes fight against each other, the new rulers could disrupt the order of the original tribes.
Continuing the Latin-American story, the Indians were seen as lesser creatures that needed to be educated by means of Christianity and other western cultural aspects. The cultural destruction following the conquest has been enormous. A harmonious society with great respect for nature, due to their animism, was replaced by an abusive and destructive attitude towards nature to the benefit of the economy. An indigenous tribe in Bolivia used to construct an inventive irrigation-system by manipulating the course of a river in a way it would meander. Very fertile sediments would pile up in the curves of the river and this way there would be water and fertilizer wherever it was needed to grow crops. The modern, technical and costly irrigation-systems, which have replaced the original ones, are less successful and less accessible. In that sense western influences have degraded the prosperity of Bolivia.
If we look at the Incas, we see another example of an elevated indigenous culture, which was never surpassed by the European ‘civilized’ cultures. Their style of construction is that refined, that even the restoration of their (500 year old) constructions is almost impossible and far too costly to realize with the modern techniques. And if we ask the question how the Incas achieved such far-developed construction-methods, we get to the core of my argument.
The Incas used to subjugate other tribes in a way they didn’t strive to destroy the opponent. Instead they wanted the defeated tribe to pay contribution to the Incas and its chief was given a noble-man’s status in the Ina-empire. The civilization of the Incas developed continuously, because they wanted to learn from the tribes they forced into submission. The principle of wanting to learn mutually from the other culture is one of the essential pre-conditions of a successful development-supporting aid program.
If the Third World’s development would follow the same world-destructive, individualistic, materialistic, (mass-)consumerist, and selfish path as the First World has, humanity and nature will have a short and ugly future. I don’t agree that everyone has the right to make the same mistakes as others did before them. And I agree even less that we should help them in doing so. If you want to give development aid, you have to address material, cognitive, as well as mental poverty.
The clearest indication of mental poverty I’ve seen in the Third World is the idea that everything in the First World is better. Although through television almost the whole world is familiar with the lowest pulp-culture of the USA, sickening commercials, soap-series, talk shows, and Hollywood-films (all of them are official Dutch words), instead of taking an aversion to this non-culture, people in poor countries have generated a desire to fly there. The same history of the shimmering necklaces and mirrors that seduced the Indians, is repeating itself. Most people in poor countries want to go away out of the miserable circumstances in their home-country. They want to go to Utopia, to bling-bling-land, the place where the streets are made of golden bricks, and where they fill their bath-tubs with champagne. Those kinds of images of a glamorous world with only beautiful people, which are sent around the world through soap-series, spread mental poverty throughout all areas where they receive these images.
I want to wake these glamour-admiring people up from their empty illusion. I want to confront them with the sad and soulless existence in the First World, where money is more important than life, community, and love altogether. An aware human being doesn’t attach so much value to material possession. The mental and spiritual poverty that dominates the First World is not a development-goal I want for the Third World. In order to choose another kind of development-path that doesn’t lead to the same kind of degeneration as the First World is suffering now, awareness must be part of every development-program throughout the world.
Having said all this, I come to the combination of three ways of development aid, where Global Soul Development stands for:
If we want to be of any significance to the development in the world, we should open ourselves to the lessons we can learn from the nations, tribes, and people we want to help. When we do so, we see that we have problems they don’t, and they have problems we don’t. Any development has to be a mutual learning-process.
If we see they have a problem we worry about, and would like to do something about, we have to ask them if we are really witnessing their biggest problem. The problem has to be recognized by a big majority of people, including the authorities. If you go against the will of the authorities, you risk too much.
Further it is important that we are dealing with a practical problem and that it is possible to solve the problem with limited means. To the question of their biggest problem, many would answer “corruption”. But if they would find a solution to that problem, they should help us to deal with our own corruption. This kind of problem is impossible to solve, because when there is power, there is corruption. But often there are far more practical problems, which can be solved with intelligence, benevolence, and some means.
The next step towards a successful aid-program, is joining forces of all concerning parties: the people, which are united in civil organizations, and the local or national authorities. Together we should find and design the best possible solution to the problem. Often the people who are suffering most from the problem know best how it is to be solved, and what kind of means and knowledge are needed. It is very important the involved parties think of ways to realize the solution and to finance it. I think in order to achieve success, it’s necessary that the concerning parties carry some of the responsibility for the solution, and are actively involved in the execution of the aid-project. On before hand they have to design a plan, which secures the autonomous and durable continuation of the solution.
For the future:
The task I’d like to fulfil is to research comprehensively the causes of the problem and to ask critical questions about the realization and durability of the solution the local people suggest themselves. Further I want to guide the whole thinking process towards a solution that is most wanted by all parties, and which is in the same time realizable by means of their own effort, support of the local authorities, and with support of development-organizations which cooperate with the program. My biggest task will be writing down the whole plan, which defines the realization of the project and the exact aid-request. Everyone who plays a part in the realization of the project has to put their signature on the contract and this has to be witnessed by the local people and by the authorities. Then I will contact a NGO that has goals and methods which concord with the aid-request, in order to ask them if they want to give the assistance as is specified in the aid-request. The execution of the program will be coordinated and evaluated by a committee of representatives of all interest-groups that participate on the project.
Besides the development-aid as described above, there is another, perhaps more effective way to encourage the development of the poorest people of society. I’m referring to micro-credits, a relatively new, but very successful way of fighting poverty. There are many books that describe the principles and practical successes of micro-credits.
I believe, structural development in the Third World is only possible to achieve when the concerning people themselves bring about the development. External aid will often fail to cause structural progress, when the responsibility is not placed with the recipients of help. A problem we can solve is the inaccessibility of reasonably priced credits for poor people. Banks normally are not open to lending to poor people without security. And private creditors are often loan-sharks. They demand absurdly high interest-rates, causing the bankruptcy of many poor people. These loan-sharks are often involved in more illegal practices and if people can’t pay their interest no more, they enter times of serious troubles.
In order to stimulate poor people’s business initiatives in the Third World, we need to grant the poorest people micro-credits, so they can start small-scale enterprises. These debtors have to pay interest, like any other person, following the standard rules of the economy. It is essential that they achieve their development based on their own force. This self-help will not only improve their living-conditions, but also contribute to their self-esteem and make them proud. There is nothing more satisfying than independently bringing about your own development.
For the future:
I’d want to focus on the people that need micro-credits to create a way for themselves and their families to actually survive. The people, who want to expand their already built up enterprises through micro-credits, have to look for other sources of credit. I’d prefer to help more people to satisfy their basic needs, than helping some to get a lot wealthier than their neighbours. In my idea of basic needs, a minimum budget, housing, and schooling are included. The needed money I want to get from donations, so the refunded loans can be lent again. On this website I could show what’s happening with the money and what goals are being achieved with it.
This third type of the aid Global Soul Development stands for is most essential. Why? The development of people’s awareness, leads to durable and independent human well-being, or happiness. People tend to charge, use and abuse other people and nature around them a lot less if they are happy. Awareness makes people more satisfied. An increasing wealth is only valuable if people can appreciate it. This issue is not only relevant to the Third World, but to the whole Global Soul.
Awareness is necessary for someone to realize what his/her talents are, to know what possibilities are within reach, and what someone’s task is in this world, why he/she is here. If people are aware they make sure their material development doesn’t destroy the natural, social, cultural, inner and spiritual wealth that is already there. Dealing well with progress is only possible if your awareness grows with it.
In the section coaching, you can see how essentialism is applied to the level of personal development. When we integrate this applied essentialism in our development-aid to the Third World, we get a holistic development, which is led by growing awareness. That’s my goal for Global Soul Development. The process of growing awareness should help people all over the world, to find ways to develop themselves mentally, socially, and economically, based on self-confidence and on their own strength.
Regarding the Third World development-aid, it is essential that the ones in need find back their dignity within themselves, through becoming aware of their own powers, their spiritual, social, and material wealth. With a little help from their ‘friends’, they should apply these own forces and wealth, to bring themselves and their close by community in a spiral of development. They should not loose the connection to their soul, to nature and to the others and they should fight to restore their independence from the First World.
“Don’t sell your soul to progress!
Be a natural, respectful and loving human being.
Be someone people regard to as a good person.
Never forget or disconnect yourself from your roots.”
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