How to Avoid the Marie Antoinette Syndrome

SummaryAcknowledgementIntroductionWhy Should We Help?The BenefitsThe Venture ItselfHow to Avoid the Marie Antoinette SyndromeThe Action PlanConclusionSelected Bibliography


Reaching out to the developing world to help is the way of the future. More and more people and organizations are aware of the enormous disparity between the rich world and the developing world and are taking action.

BCIT has a unique opportunity to take advantage of the fact that not one Canadian institution has taken on a venture such as this. We could be seen as a national — perhaps even international — leader and innovator in this field. Let us not waste time.

If we do not take action, history will not judge us kindly. This issue goes far beyond the fact that BCIT could set a stunning example and reap acclaim and hosannas from around the country. We only have to look at an example from history: Marie-Antoinette, who famously said, (Let them eat cake.) The photograph below shows actress Kirsten Dunst portraying Marie-Antoinette in Sofia Coppola’s 2006 movie of the same name.

Figure 13: Marie-Antoinette: not a person to emulate
(Marie-Antoinette (2006))


Marie-Antoinette and her husband, Louis XVI, were utterly oblivious to the fact that there was a suffering world outside their little court and that they were not protected from the rage of the crowd by their sense of royal entitlement. They could not conceive that they would ultimately pay for their obtuseness and selfishness. Perhaps future generations will look at us and shake their heads and wonder that we too could have been so selfish and ignorant and unaware to take no heed of millions and millions of suffering people around the world whom we did nothing to help.

Let us hope that we will not suffer a comparable dreadful fate as a result.