Teach A Man To Fish

Monday night, I was watching the first episode of the new season of one of my favorite shows, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. The new season begins in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, post Earthquake. I was delighted that Anthony chose Haiti to film the first episode. We often run to help after a disaster, and then we go about our daily routines. Since the earthquake, Haiti has been hit with an outbreak of cholera and there have been controversy over the elections, issues that I figured Anthony would touch upon. Little did I know that Anthony Bourdain would leave me to reflect on a lot more.

I follow the belief that to whom much is given, much is required. In that spirit, my first Greedygirl post was about outreach efforts in Las Vegas to support people in Haiti after the earthquake. The earthquake happened around that time that I decided to begin my blog, and I couldn’t comprehend writing about indulging in food and drink without using my voice to offer some form of assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people with little to no access to food or clean drinking water in Haiti. I wrote my post, hoped that people would access some of the aid resources, and in the end at least a few people in Haiti would benefit. I had created the cause and I felt good about it.

During one of the first segments of the episode, Anthony and his producers set out to create a cause that quickly backfires. Anthony and his local guide are having their customary sampling of local cuisine from a street vendor. The locals watch Anthony and his hosts consume their meals. As the scene progresses, what becomes noticeable is that the onlookers are more in awe of the food being eaten, than the curious presence of a white man and his camera crew. The woman explains that business is bad. It’s almost the end of the day and she still has food that won’t be bought. Anthony and his production crew see an opportunity, a way to assist the woman as well as the famished onlookers. They buy the woman’s food stand out at full price to feed the hungry onlookers. It’s a win, win idea. Everyone benefits, or do they?

As the meals are served, the guys waiting in line start to push and shove each other, impatiently waiting on their meals. Anthony and his crew realize that their gesture, while well meaning, might have created more turmoil than good. You hear Anthony’s voiceover comment, “We didn’t think it through. We thought short term. Feel good, obvious seeming solutions. But there are no easy answers. Because of that, because we thought with our hearts, not our heads, it all turned to sh!t.” Those words hit me like a ton of bricks and reminded me of the proverb: give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

I don’t think we’re wrong when we think with our hearts and give a man a fish, but as Anthony Bourdain illustrated, I think we must challenge ourselves to think with our heads. Thank you Anthony and the team at No Reservations for leaving me with more than just the yearning to travel the world and eat.

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations

Travel Chanel

Season 7 – Haiti

Available on iTunes

4 thoughts on “Teach A Man To Fish

  1. Wow! thanks for this. Well stated. I went straight to the link to view the video clip which inspired your comments. What more is there to say except, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.” Maybe these thoughts will generate a combined heart/head solution to restoring the broken to the self-fixed.

  2. Dear Greedy Girl,
    Thank you for sharing your insightful awakening. It seems to me that the solution put in to place by the producers was really one that came from the emotions of the head in trying to force a solution and thereby creating a “bigger problem”. I ascribe to the notion that the heart has an “immeasurable computing ability” to sort out things in a way beyond the limitations of mental logic . That notion is informed by spiritual philosophers like Deepak Choprah who remind us that the heart is not just emotional and sentimental, and luminaries like the Dalai Lama. Of course keep on using your head, but remember to tap into your Whole Heart for guidance to taking action.
    Much Love, Peace & Power to you Greedy Girl and keep blogging!

  3. I thought the quote was “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll sit in a boat and drink beer all day.”

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