THE REDUCTIVE SEDUCTION OF OTHER PEOPLE’S PROBLEMS
Exotic problems in exotic locations are enticing to ambitious and altruistic young adults. It’s intimidating to throw yourself into problems that you’ve grown up with: you’re aware of the systemic complexity that makes them unsolvable. Far away problems, by comparison, are seductive. Courtney Martin writes in Bright Mag, “If you’re young, privileged, and interested in creating a life of meaning, of course you’d be attracted to solving problems that seem urgent and readily solvable.”
This “reductive seduction” is not malicious, but it can have dangerous consequences in the international development context, such as fostering the white savior complex and undermining the credibility of local actors. I encourage anyone with an interest in international development and humanitarian ethics to give this a read.
Illustration by Michael Marsicano for Bright Magazine