Although he was speaking in another context the Chief Rabbi, in this morning's Radio 4 "Thought for the Day" made a point very pertinent to the sanctimonious indignation presently surrounding the flaws in the behaviour of some of the operatives in OXFAM and other aid agencies.
His point was that many if not most of the heroes of the Bible were flawed characters. Among others he cites Jacob, who deceived his father, and King David, who was an adulterer.
Yet the present indignation seems to expect every single one of those engaged in what has sadly developed into the "aid industry" to live a life of Simon purity. Some 7 000 former supporters of OXFAM have expressed their indignation by cancelling their subscriptions.
I have been an OXFAM donor for decades and have no intention whatsoever of cancelling my standing order.
I do worry, however, that this bad publicity may bounce OXFAM and other aid agencies into an over-reaction. I contribute to finance humanitarian aid in tragic circumstances and, equally, to establish sustainable long-term development projects; not to finance over-intrusive inspection regimes which are unwilling to take anything on trust.
I was a teacher for 50 years from 1959 and know full well that all inspection regimes and oversight come a cost. During my own career I estimate that 95% of my time and energy went into educating my pupils, and, I hope, occasionally inspiring some. I get the impression that today’s teachers spend a good half of their time and energy proving to OFSTED that they’ve done what they are dedicated to doing: - teaching and inspiring the young.. I should not like the present embarrassment to similarly distract OXFAM and other aid agencies from their true purposes.