Friday nights are pizza night in our household. I make two types of pizza – cheese, pepperoni – on two different bases – regular or keto. The type of pizza has slightly evolved over the years as the kids’ preferences have. It is not fancy, but it gives everyone some choice and in response to their stated desires.
Listening to the desires of your audience and providing some choice is not entitlement, it is a kindness. Or perhaps it is just being human.
Unfortunately, most of our aid systems are not set up this way. It’s more a ‘take it or leave it’ approach. And it is coupled with the mindset that if we see the aid we gave being sold in the local market, we immediately suspect fraud or corruption. Why is this our first assumption? Why we do think that perhaps what we provided as aid was not what was needed?
When we do not provide choice, people make their own choice.
I am still flabbergasted that in the aftermath of a disaster, where the markets are not yet functioning, we don’t simply open a market with our ‘stuff’, put a price tag on each item, give people cash to spend on the items available.
We don’t need to provide every brand or every item, just like the pizza choice is limited. But just like everyone around the table can choose which pizza to eat, so should people in need of assistance be able to choose. And yes, sometimes items will run out, just like the pizza selection does. And yes, if our Friday night dinner table is any indication, there will be tension over who took the last one.
Desiring or even demanding choice is not about entitlement or corruption, it’s about dignity and agency.
And now the choice is up to us.