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Lessons learned while trying to save the world (part 1)

Over the years, I’ve wasted a lot of time doing things with good intentions, but that in the end, may have had few results. I began my overseas career in Indonesia where we did a large goat project in a rural community. It went impossibly slow and, though money had been appropriated, no goats wer…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Over the years, I’ve wasted a lot of time doing things with good intentions, but that in the end, may have had few results. I began my overseas career in Indonesia where we did a large goat project in a rural community. It went impossibly slow and, though money had been appropriated, no goats were purchased.

Then one day the government announced that a general would be flying in to see the goat project. Our partner, the Department of Social Affairs, scrambled into action and sent orders to buy every goat for miles around. The local leaders rounded up every stray and sick goat in the area, and shuttled them to the village.

When the general arrived, he was delighted to see hundreds and hundreds of goats in their pens. What progress! This was a testimony to the efficiency of the government and to the glories of multiple parties dedicated to the common purpose of rural economic development in Indonesia.

He climbed back into his helicopter and left, a happier man.

A few days later, almost every goat in the village died of a blood fluke disease that had spread when their immune systems were weakened and they were placed in proximity with other sick goats.

I learned a few things.

1. There is no substitute for ownership. People are motivated to take care of things that directly benefit them.

2. Government is a terrible delivery mechanism for altruism. Everyone’s primary motivation is negative (CYA) as opposed to positive.

3. There’s no replacing a well-thought-out plan based on past success executed by experienced people.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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