Compassion by Proxy
Posted on May 20, 2009
This post is an extract from a longer article I wrote on ‘welfare mentality’ a few years ago. You can find it here.
…It does appear that the professionalisation of compassion saps the confidence of community members to intervene for the good of others. Yet, it seems just another explanation that defers to ‘higher forces’, again allowing ordinary citizens off the hook, and disempowering them by insisting on purely structural solutions. Beyond decisions taken by politicians and bureaucrats, surely the average citizen can do something, anything, at a personal level.
Here we touch the edge of the root of the problem: that the citizenry, as a whole, does not wish to venture into the pain of our communities. We are content to sub-contract our responsibility to others through taxation, and perhaps donate extra monies to charities, employing professionals as our proxies. This is the real ‘welfare mentality’ in our culture.
Until this disease is cured, any amount of structural or institutional alterations will do little good. Surely, after decades of revelations in which the failures of the welfare system have been extensively documented, we can admit that calls for institutional reform will not give vulnerable citizens what they need.