Ask, don’t tell

This is why I shouldn’t sit so long on the toilet scrolling through Facebook.

As I was scrolling I saw a headline about the U.S. sending soldiers to Iraq fight ISIS. I’m just like, come on. We just bombed civilians. The people we want to help are not going to want our “help.”

So I thought, how could we actually help? The U.S.’s immediate actions are usually sending people and supplies over to affected areas. Which is helpful, but is the manner in which it is done truly helpful and effective? Could we instead utilize resources that are already on the ground and supplement them?

Like, Humans of New York and Al Jazeera probably know of organizations, businesses, or even just organized groups of civilians who are trying to answer the gaps and chaos caused by the fighting of different groups. My thoughts are to contact these organizations, businesses, and groups and ask “What do you need?” They need the war, terror, death, and random violence to stop of course. The immediate needs are survival needs: food, water, shelter, medical treatment. Is it possible to contact multiple food suppliers/growers in the regions and buy food for those affected by the violence and chaos? This boosts the local economies but also doesn’t deplete the amount of food available to other customers of the food suppliers/growers if the food is bought in small quantities from many businesses. That’s the only idea that might actually work without knowing more about the on-the-ground situation. I am sitting in my comfy bed with a permanent roof over my head. I do not know anything about what the refugees are experiencing. All I can think of is my training with Anthropology is that while we think we know what is best for the people we want to help, ultimately, they are the ones who know their needs and wants. We cannot assume and make decisions for them. The people who are living through the attacks, it doesn’t matter who from (well, it does, but no matter who is attacking civilians, they are still suffering and in need of aid), are the ones who know who to trust or not to trust, whose businesses are still open, which sources of water are unpolluted, etc. We have to trust their knowledge and their leadership. Yeah we can and should supply labor and goods, but before adding what we think they need, we should address what they decide they need and want.

P.S. Tags are stupid. Trying to think of relevant tags that won’t bring fire from Big Brother


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