Just before prayer meeting tonight, Glenbert asked if he could talk to me. He said, “You know how I borrowed your bike a little bit ago? Well, I took it to the market, and somebody stole it.” Glen is quite a joker, so I wasn’t exactly sure if he was being serious, but this time, he was. Apparently, he parked it near the stand of one of our church members, but when he came back, it was gone. Nobody had seen anything. He reported the theft to the police, but I imagine that means almost nothing. Glen has offered to replace it but 1) I’m not sure he can afford to, and 2) we’re only going to be here a few more months anyhow.
Tiff and I were talking the other day about emotional attachments, and I mentioned that I didn’t think I was too heavily invested in anything. Maybe the bicycle is a small test of that. Honestly, I don’t really care that much that my bike is gone. Probably students borrowing it have put more kilometers on it than I have. If I accept any payment from Glen, it won’t be because I need it, but because he needs a lesson in responsibility.
This is not a lesson needed only by Glen. It seems like the students often fail to show care for a borrowed item. We bought a computer for the library, and in just a few weeks, the hard drive was corrupted and had to be reformatted. The students didn’t care for it as they would if it were their own.
And the problem goes to the macro-level, too. This is one of the things that’s wrong with paternalistic missions. If the sending nation is forever subsidizing pastors, building schools and hospitals, the receiving nation never learns to take responsibility. The building didn’t cost us anything; why should we take care of it? And that probably goes on the governmental level as well. It’s looked on as meddling (or imperialism) if the US government gets too hands-on in another country. But if the US only sends money and doesn’t make sure that money is being used to set up systems of responsibility, it’s almost sure to be foolishly spent.