Who would ever suggest that aid to Africa might be a bad thing? Dambisa Moyo would. Born and raised in Zambia, the 41-year-old Harvard- and Oxford-educated economist has gotten the world's attention with her stark message: Systemic aid to Africa (aid from institutions such as governments or the World Bank) breeds corruption and dependence—and must stop. Her thesis, laid out in her best-selling book, Dead Aid, has met with acclaim and criticism, but there's no doubt it's challenging conventional wisdom about the relationship between developed and underdeveloped nations. She explains the art of agreeing to disagree .
If you question aid to Africa, as I did, you're quickly labeled racist or insensitive or extremist. People use inflammatory language; they say your arguments are foolish, stupid, cruel. But if you ask, "Would you prefer we live in the status quo?" you get a silence.
Part of power is emphasizing what everyone agrees on, accepting other views, so you can create a comfort zone of respect and have more space to influence people's thinking. In my work, the conversation is too often "You're against aid and I'm for aid," when it should be "We all want to see Africa break its dependence on aid." Real power comes from making everyone feel that they're on the same page.