Pride that apes humility
Published: September 20, 2012 at 8:58am
This letter was published in The Times yesterday.
Let’s go on a summer sacrifice
Allan Gatt, Birkirkara
Unsolicited mail is never more unwelcome than when it smuggles its way into your consideration under the pretence of some humanitarian cause.
This is certainly the case with a magazine dropped into my letterbox by entities unknown carried an article about Jennifer Dimech, an attractive blonde who “accompanied President George Abela on his recent visit to Arequipa in Peru to help the MSSP Mission”.
The devil’s darling sin, as Coleridge observed, is pride that apes humility, and so it is with this offensive article, which speaks of the “selflessness” of volunteers who “could all have gone on summer holidays but instead chose to travel for hours to be there and help them”.
The implication that altruism which isn’t publicly feted is no altruism at all is quite clear.
It’s the same reason people never wrestle alligators without an audience. Ms Dimech again: “The difference in culture and way of living and their smiles and happiness despite the little they have – it teaches you to appreciate life”.
The interpretation that the natives might be genial and good natured because of their collective poverty and not in spite of it is nowhere to be drawn.
Even more scandalously, there is no mention of how the presence of soft-skinned, well-fed and obscenely wealthy part-time missionaries, whose plane tickets to and from Peru probably cost more than what a Peruvian family earns in a year, will impact the ‘beneficiaries’ of this much publicised ‘generosity’.
It is often said that a man can endure incredible hardship so long as he is not humiliated in the process, and how can it be anything but humiliating for a penury-stricken people with strong traditions of gerontocracy to endure the pity and the mentoring of a horde of patronising youngsters who consider a visit to their homeland as some sort of ‘summer sacrifice’?
Consciously or unconsciously, all these youthful volunteers do is act as salesmen for the delusive ideals of democracy, equal opportunity and free enterprise among people who haven’t the slightest possibility of profiting from them.
So much for ‘helping the needy’.