An Imperfect Offering by James Orbinski
Humanitarian Action for the Twenty-First Century

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"This book is a series of stories in which I ask, again and again, ‘how to be in relation to the suffering of others.' It is a personal narrative about the political journey I have taken over the last twenty years as a humanitarian doctor, as a citizen, and as a man. This is a story about a way of seeing that requires humility, so that one can recognize the sameness of self in the other. It is about the mutuality that can exist between us, if we so choose. I have come to see humanitarianism not as separate from politics, but in relation to it, and as a challenge to political choices that too often kill or allow others to be killed. Speaking is the first political act. It is the first act of liberty, and it always implicitly involves another. In speaking, one inherently recognizes that ‘I am and I am not alone.' In this space lies our humanity."Having seen things we hope never to see, confronted suffering, dispassion, and evil we hope never to encounter, and faced deep personal torment, James Orbinski still believes in "the good we can be if we so choose." His chosen medium is stories from his own experience-a form of testimony from the front lines-embodied in which are warnings, hope, and lessons in how we can inject humanitarian activity into our lives. Being political, he has discovered, is not only reserved for politicians; admitting imperfection is essential to compassion. The crystal clarity of Orbinski's voice is matched by the urgency of his message; at a time of great political and moral uncertainty, An Imperfect Offering is invaluable reading for anyone who feels he/she can make a difference.
 

About James Orbinski

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James Orbinski is past international president of Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, and accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of MSF in 1999. Prior to joining MSF, he was a medical researcher in Rwanda in the late 1980s, and a family doctor in small town Canada. With MSF, he worked in Peru, in Somalia during its famine and civil war, in Afghanistan during its civil war, in Rwanda through the genocide and in Zaire during the slaughter that followed. In 1999, he helped launch MSF’s Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, and he has spoken on behalf of MSF before the UN Security Council, the leaders of the World Health Organization, the United Nations High Commission for Relief, the World Bank, and at the White House and before government ministers and heads of state the world over. When his term as president of MSF ended in 2001, he worked as chair of MSF’s Neglected Diseases Working Group. In 2004, he left MSF to found Dignitas International, an organization committed to community-based care for people living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world. He lives in Canada.
 
Published November 1, 2010 by Walker Books. 449 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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A doctor who has witnessed the worst forms of inhumanity in hot spots around the globe takes an unflinching look at the political and economic forces that provoke human suffering and offers a moving meditation on the nature of humanitarianism.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of An Imperfect Offering: Humani...

The Guardian

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An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-First Century James Orbinski Rider and Co £16.99, pp448 In August 1969, James Orbinski, who later would become one of the world's foremost humanitarian doctors, travelled downtown with his mother from his family's home in Notre-Dame-de-...

Jun 22 2008 | Read Full Review of An Imperfect Offering: Humani...

The Guardian

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For MSF, it was not enough to provide humanitarian aid, it was necessary to speak out against these atrocities and to call for UN military intervention to stop them (MSF was founded in 1971 on the basis of its rejection of the traditional Red Cross position of silence).

Aug 23 2008 | Read Full Review of An Imperfect Offering: Humani...

Bookmarks Magazine

I have come to see humanitarianism not as separate from politics, but in relation to it, and as a challenge to political choices that too often kill or allow others to be killed.

Oct 05 2008 | Read Full Review of An Imperfect Offering: Humani...

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