Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Beyond Good Intentions

A lot of people say that it is intention that counts. I'm hard on people...I expect more. Its simply NOT enough to just have good intentions. You need to think ten times beyond just your intention into the impact it has on the people around you.

Not convinced?? Let's take the example of suicide. Quite often, it is done with "good intentions." I used to work with suicidal trust me on this! Most people contemplating suicide believe that they are doing the world and their families a HUGE favor by killing off a terrible, horrible person (that's how they perceive themselves!). But the truth is that their suicide hurts the people they are most trying to help. Friends and family spend years trying to come to terms with that decision. Trust me on this too. The pain left behind is unbearable. In fact, when the kids I worked with realized how much pain they were actually causing by leaving, they often abandoned their attempts altogether.

This is an extreme example of the point I am trying to make...good intentions are simply NOT enough. The same is true of the aid world. People need to think ten times about the impact of their intention before putting it into practice. The reason aid is SO ineffective is exactly because no seems to think past the intentions.

(photo credit:

Tori Hogan (above, in Mozambique) went through a similar questioning period. Was it enough to just have good intentions?? Tori worked as an aid worker for a few years, got incredibly frustrated with the inefficiencies and left. She saved all her money from various jobs, bought a camera and went around the world asking people working in the aid world, "What makes aid effective??"

She's in the process of putting together a documentary titled Beyond Good Intentions. Tori has an interesting blog here; and a teaser video here.

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