By Roger O’Halloran
Palms is requested to fill some positions that may not be seen as having an impact on material poverty. We can find ourselves questioning the value of engaging our resources to place a teacher of philosophy, for example. Will the academic study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence improve sustainable development?
My answer is, it probably will. If we in the West devoted more time to philosophy, it is likely we would focus less heavily on materialism. We could be more considered in the production of things at the expense of the environment. We may realise more readily that more things still leaves us wanting.
So how do we have life to the full?
When we talk of Palms program enabling all to have life to the full, we might assume that it is only about enabling material development for “the poor”. Certainly, humans have developed material goods that allow us to efficiently and sustainably engage in life. World Toilet Day on November 19th reminded us of an important item for assisting to ward off disease.
The material goods that allow us to manage the tasks of our working day, so that we can feed and clothe our families and keep disease at bay, are mostly taken-for-granted in the West. Insecurity seems to be taking us out the other side of development in a frenzy of hyper-materialism. As we pollute with our waste and create extreme climate change, we consume more air-conditioners and power to keep us cool.
Having more things is not development because it makes human existence unsustainable. The advent of Christmas is a good time to ponder Palms Development Philosophy because it has a message about giving and receiving to assist holistic development. Below I examine the first paragraph in three parts:
“Development is an economic, social, cultural, spiritual and ecological process …
A good volunteer assignment will assist aspects of such development. As importantly, sharing the story of a host community can assist those at home to rediscover some forgotten components of development.
… that encourages the empowerment and wellbeing of individuals, communities and organisations to reduce poverty, enjoy and nurture basic human rights and independence …
Poverty in any manifestation: economic, social, cultural, spiritual or ecological; prohibits a full life.
… and work towards a future where the interdependence of economic and ecological sustainability is achieved.”
Anthropogenic destruction is assured if we continue to deny that ecological sustainability is a cost of producing many of the goods and services that we in the “First World” demand for our development. If Palms sends Australians to the “Majority World” to encourage such unrestrained economic development we add to the problem. Instead, we must send pilgrims seeking collaboration to achieve holistic development. Teaching philosophy fits.
An appeal to give whole development
In the spirit of holistic development Palms Appeal this Christmas asks you to give your family and friends a volunteer. Of course what you’re really doing is giving a skilled Australian to a community asking for assistance to develop those skills, because they want to reduce poverty, enjoy and nurture basic human rights and assist to develop a degree of independence for their people. However, this gift also has a greater potential.
Connection with a Palms assignment will bring your family and friends a wonderful story of hope; even the possibility that one day they might be called to share their talents to advance such a story. Of course, if their development will be assisted with the material goods or services you were thinking of giving them, that’s just as good. Any help you can give on top of that to send a philosophy teacher, or other skilled Australian, will be appreciated.