09 May 2010

Happy Mother’s Day, So Save the World

Or so says Nicholas Kristof in his NYT column today.  Doing what he does what he does best, Kristof uses statistics to make us feel guilty and highlight the fact that the world outside of America is a horrible place filled with mothers dying at childbirth or ending up with obstetric fistula.  Of course, once he has made his reader feel guilty, Kristof offers up some places where you can send your money to ‘save the children’ (yes, he did suggest that as one of a few places to send your money) rather than buy mom some flowers.

I am all for responsible spending and am entirely against over consumption, but I do not think it is useful to make people feel guilty for what they have because there are others without.  Guilt is a horrible weapon that Kristof continues to aim at Americans with his columns.  Rather than expand the understanding of the average American, Kristof uses his column to create a pipeline to his favorite charities and guilt his audience into hooking in. 

If I didn’t know any better, Kristof could easily be a paid advocate for specific issues and charities.  I guess, when you think about it, he is.  His employer is the New York Times and they enable and encourage him to write columns like today’s or even last week’s where he managed to discuss Africa, the Catholic Church, and how the two are saving the helpless Africans.

With an education gap between donors and responsible aid, Kristof continues to advocate for an approach that includes little research and only good intentions. ‘ Good intentions are not enough’ has become a bit of a mantra for the development community and Mr. Kristof has missed out on the secret (or so it seems when he does everything to say that good intentions are more than enough).

So, I want to wish all the mothers a very happy mother’s day that is full of joy and appreciation, not guilt and sadness.