Home   Google ARCHIVE SEARCH: Date:


With Mishana Hosseinioun

Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

Phil-entropy: 'Tis the Season for Misgivings

By Mishana Hosseinioun

December 12, 2005

While it is every other humble soccer mom and CEO's self-proclaimed moral, if not fiduciary, obligation to 'give back to the community,' especially around the holiday seasons, philanthropy-in all its purported altruism-can nevertheless be said to institutionalize an arguably strategic vicious circle of dependency between the haves and the have-nots. Instead of minimizing the disparity between the rich and the poor, as it would logically seem to be doing, the very act of philanthropic giving simultaneously serves to provide the aforementioned binary with all the more raison d'être, and to forever keep the white picket fence between the neighbors in question freshly painted, so to speak. And as with all cases of wet paint, this too has long been written off as a sticky subject not to be touched-so, predictably, it has been left as such.

Paradoxically enough, for every charitable transaction aimed at closing this wealth gap, there is a reaffirmation of goodness and integrity on the side of the privileged, the one who gives, and consequently, an equal and opposite widening of the perceived moral gulf between the latter class and those deemed less fortunate; hence a ready-made alibi for the perpetuation of the current hierarchical world order in which we now find, and occasionally lose, ourselves.

Meanwhile, non-profit organizations seem to be the indentured servants caught in the web of this kinship structure, evermore beholden to the lottery of foundation grants and annual benefit dinners that spell out their uncertain 501(c)(3) fates. Increasingly, competition over pocketbooks and ripped checks is causing NGOs to readily work at cross-purposes with those headed essentially down the same path, and to effectively cancel out each other's hard-earned sweat and tears. In turn, this contest works to hinder all organizations uniformly, and thus, in the long term, undermine their communal goal of realizing the likes of 'world peace,' 'democracy' and what have we.

The inability, however, on the part of most organizations to visualize their place within the larger scheme of things and to carve out a space for sharing, trust, and collaboration accordingly, is just one symptom of this enduring socio-humanitarian myopia. Non-profits can hardly be blamed, for after all they are just as busy as the rest of us, engaged in the mother of all obscurantist diversions-fundraising-and must not be bothered lest they should miss the next application deadline.

Mishana Hosseinioun is the Program Director of International Convention on Human Rights (ICHR), a non-profit dedicated to drafting a legally enforceable international human rights document. She is a longstanding intern in Mayor Gavin Newsom's office in San Francisco and a recent graduate of Rhetoric and Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Email Mishana at Mishana@ichr.org


Editor's Note: Views expressed by columnists published on FogCityJournal.com are not necessarily the views or beliefs of Fog City Journal. Fog City Journal supports free speech in all its varied forms and provides a forum for a complete spectrum of viewpoints.



The Hunger Site

Cooking Classes
in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires B&B

Calitri in southern Italy

L' Aquila in Abruzzo

Health Insurance Quotes


Bruce Brugmann's


Civic Center

Dan Noyes

Greg Dewar

Griper Blade


Malik Looper






MetroWize Urban Guide

Michael Moore

N Judah Chronicles


Robert Solis

SF Bay Guardian





SFWillie's Blog



Sweet Melissa