Paul Comrie-Thomson on Counterpoint said...
As British author Patrick West argued in his book 'Conspicuous Compassion' "If the Good Samaritan had been raised in a culture like ours...he would have walked on by and made a long-winded speech in the temple calling upon the Romans to tackle the root causes of social exclusion in Judea". This sounds like what Kevin Rudd is up to.
"When I feed the poor, they call me a Saint. When I ask why are they poor, they call me a Communist."
- Immediate relief or giving someone a fish. This is the more coalface good Samaritan work where you are literally feeding the poor, finding a bed for the homeless or perhaps supporting agencies who do this elsewhere (like emergency relief in the third world).
- Capactity building or teaching someone to fish. This is longer term work with people so that they can avoid the repeating getting into a situation that saw them needing the immediate relief.
- System Change or making sure the lake isn't over fished by others. This is agitating for political and structural change, to make sure that as much as possible people will not need immediate relief.
All three spheres are equally important and we ignore either one at our peril. The first two are hard as they involve getting our hands dirty but are often considered where the "real" help happens. I'd argue that the third sphere is equally important. As far as I can see a politician has far greater effectiveness then most in the 3rd sphere. I certainly wouldn't be happy with a politician who was part of a bread run feeding families who don't have enough money to feed themselves but doesn't then try to address the systemic problems that may have got them in this position in the first place.
I'm certainly not going to say Kevin Rudd is the greatest thing on the Australian political landscape but he's certainly saying some good things and I'm willing to see if he can convert the saying into doing.