Don't Help People

Author, physician, and professor Rachel Naomi Remen has struggled with Chrohn's disease her whole life, which informed her view of life and medicine.

She wrote a piece that makes a powerful distinction between traditional views of 'good' work, and articulates why you really shouldn't help people.

Naomi explains that when you help people you treat them as if they're weak.

When you fix people, you treat them as if they're broken.

But when you serve people, you treat them as if they're whole, as equals - or dare we say superiors - and as indispensable co-creators of a sustainable solution.

This is why traditional aid has proven ineffective and unsustainable.

Aid models are inherently designed to emphasize a group's perceived deficits, create a culture of dependency, reinforce imperialistic paradigms, and fail to create sustainable solutions. Instead, we need to adopt a truly people-centered approach.

People-Centered Solutions

  1. Respect: People are experts of their own experiences, culture, and contexts. They possess wisdom necessary to the solution.

  2. Recognition: People are more than their past, their trauma, their needs. They possess creativity, resilience, and extraordinary potential.

  3. Resourcefulness: The people closest to the problem have the resources and mechanisms to create culturally responsive solutions.

  4. Responsive: When invited, we can contribute to the imagination and co-creative practices of people and communities.

So don't just help people. Serve them.