126: Do-Gooders

126: Do-Gooders

Apr 9, 1999
Stories of people trying to do good: Why they often fail and why they occasionally succeed.
  • When Brigid starting going blind, she tried to hire someone to drive her around. Only problem was, the guy she hired wanted to carry her groceries, hold her arm as she walked to the curb...he tried to help her in too many ways. When we try to help others we tend to think it's a simple thing, when in fact it's as complicated as any human relationship, which is why it's so easy to blunder. (4 minutes) Health Care/MedicineJobs/Employment

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  • Jackie and Kenny Wharton were kids in the tiny town of Canalou, Missouri, off of old Highway 61. They moved away for 40 years but always dreamed of moving back. After Kenny retired, they finally did. Canalou had fallen on hard times. They hoped to do a few things to help restore some of the spirit it had when they were kids: Modest, innocent things, maybe start a softball league, build a place for kids to play ball, maybe pave a few streets. And the more they tried, the more people resented them. After three years, they realized that something had changed in Canalou that would take a lot more than two do-gooders could fix. This is the story of what went wrong. (33 minutes) ChildhoodHistoryMarriage

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  • Modern-day fables of two different kinds of do-gooders during and after the 1994 genocide in the African country of Rwanda. Philip Gourevich, author of the book We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, tells first about international relief workers who served as "caterers" to some of the Hutu powers as they continued their policy of ethnic cleansing after fleeing to refugee camps. Then he tells the story of a more effective do-gooder: A hotel owner in Kigali who saved hundreds of lives by keeping a fully stocked bar that Hutu officials liked to frequent, by bribing officials, and by using the international phone lines. In Gourevich's description, he's a lot like Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, self effacing, friendly with evildoers, and very effective. (18 minutes) DeathGovernmentHistoryMurderPolitics

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