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15 March 2008


George Rebane

I received a very nice email from a friend re this piece which in part reads

"... (the article) was, however, missing a paragraph, which would have clarified your participation in the support of the named venture. I know that you are not "insane" and the article clearly reflects your understanding of the issues. And why is it that you then contribute to the enterprise? That is the missing paragraph."

[gjr] I guess to support the compassionate insanity of my friend, which does not necessarily speak well for my own sanity – in all of us reason has its bounds.

Martin Schmitt

Being George's insane friend, I can offer a few versions of "the missing paragraph":

1. In 2007, I held neglected, starving and sick children in my arms in Haiti's hospitals and orphanages. Yes, these children, if allowed to grow up, may become tomorrow's perpetrators, but all I saw was today's victims. I couldn't tell those little souls that I won't help them because they are neither wanted nor needed in this world. Who am I to make that judgment?

2. I believe in non-linearity. Maison Rose, our current little orphanage, provides a home for eleven children. In two years, Version 2.0 -- as we affectionately call our next project -- will house, feed and educate 100 Haitian children. Thanks to the education they will be receiving, these children's future awareness and problem-solving skills will transcend not only those of their Haitian peers, but those of any Westerner working to solve Haiti's problems. As adults, they may well become agents of radical change.

3. You've got to start somewhere. I hope to have 25 or so more years of philanthropic work in me. If last year's learning curve continues, I'll be teaching classes in How-not-to-do-it at a community college near you soon...

4. I still like George's explanation the best, though: reason has its bounds. Emotional attachments get in the way of efficiency. On one hand, I desire maximum utility from my philanthropy dollars. I cringe when I think how much money and effort it has taken to support eleven orphans, four of whom would be dead now without our intervention. On the other hand, how much would I spend to save my own children?

There are many other angles to this discussion. Thank you, George, for shining your analytical light on them!

Chris Holland

George - your comments inspired me to reason why so many of us are "insane": because we try to rise above an animal survival model. We believe this is the image of God imparted to homo sapiens. Jesus didn't argue about the sustainability of a widow's mite, or of being a good Samaritan in a dangerous neighborhood.
Unfortunately for you, your insight now lays an extra burden on you (maybe on those of us who read your blog too). What steps do you recommend to create a sustainable solution in the face of a tyranical regime? The right to criticize often carries a responsibility to take steps toward a solution. Thanks for the thought-provoking entry.

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