Food For Thought – Compassion Kills

Happy Sunday! I hope you are all having a lovely weekend.

For myself, it is Sunday morning and I am sitting in a coffee shop trying to tackle my business writing paper, but failing because I have so many thoughts swirling in my head.

Today, I have a TED talk featuring Nolan Watson to share with you guys.

Watson is a highly successful entrepreneur of several publicly traded companies, a humanitarian, and a fellow UBC Sauder graduate. I knew that he was the CEO of Sandstorm Gold prior to this, but not much else. In this installment of the famous TEDx series, he talks about how compassion kills: as we donate money and resources to merely help keep people alive, but not aiding them to become independent, we are in fact killing more people in the long run.

If such people were to stop being supported by charities, they would inevitably live in poverty, become malnourished and sick, and pass away. But by pouring resources into helping people become independent and self-sustained, we attain a long-term solution instead of a short-term fix. They are able to better take care of themselves, and even support their own children and families. It’s a hard concept to wrap one’s head around, but he explains it very well in the video.

When he wanted to drop out of school to become a humanitarian, his parents gave him advice to live by: “Nolan, if you want to be a humanitarian, your mother and I will support you…but you should become a business person first, that way you know how organizations run, how to raise money, and how to manage it properly…The goal shouldn’t be becoming a humanitarian,” they said. “The goal should be becoming a smart humanitarian.” And that’s the premise that he’s based his life goals around.

The end of the video nearly breaks my heart. But in a good way. Seeing a grown, highly successful man’s voice crack and struggling to not cry- I soon enough felt a lump in the back of my throat. To see such a smart, successful, alpha male type of guy almost lose his cool over love and compassion gives me hope for humanity and for the future.

He implores us to take a closer look at the charities we donate to, to make sure that they are putting money towards helping those in need become independent (ie: clean water projects, education, building schools, operating schools). And if that’s not the charity’s main premise, you can tie your donation to the condition that they use it for long-term solutions rather than temporary fixes.

I know people have mixed feelings about TED talks, but I always come away from them feeling inspired and wanting to better myself as a person. While I myself am not necessarily a humanitarian, I feel strongly about donating to charity, especially around the holidays- I’ve been blessed with so much in this life. Why not help out others in need? I can give up that fancy latte or that shiny new bag to help somebody get back up on their feet.

That’s it for now, folks. Have a blessed week!

PS: I think “Food For Thought” would be a great weekly or biweekly series for me to do- but I am hesitant to do so because I’m not sure I can commit to writing every week during these busy and hectic times. I usually just get bursts of inspiration and roll with it.


3 thoughts on “Food For Thought – Compassion Kills

    • joyceyl says:

      It’s definitely something I’d love to do, but may not have the time to do so 😦 I kind of just randomly think of topics and run with it- keeps the intrinsic motivation to write alive.

  1. Khanh says:

    I agree with Watson’s point that we need to focus on sustainability instead of simply giving money/feeding people in need. However I don’t like his phrase “compassion kills”. Charities wouldn’t exist at all if it weren’t for the compassion from people like Watson. Whether or not those charities are effective is a different question and I wouldn’t attribute that to compassion itself.

    You might be interested in reading this article too.

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