If you have read Peter Singer’s book, The Life You Can Save, and have not adjusted your giving (increased it) – I’d love to hear from you.
Singer writes from a ethics point of view (i.e. think philosophy and logic models) – and throws in some emotional arguements for good measure. Are we giving enough? Are you giving enough to the right causes? To the right organizations? What is enough? Enough can mean different things to different people. How do you determine enough?
Singer does. Generally, its 5% of your pre-tax income. He’s specific about where he’d like us to give – to alleviate global poverty.
What’s not as simple is why people don’t give. Among many reasons, “fairness” stole my attention. Singer asks us how we’d feel if we just gave our first big 5% donation, and then visited our neighbors back from vacation – tanned, relaxed, and with tales of adventure. Or look at it this way:
Imagine you came upon a pond where there were 9 other people standing there and 10 children were going to drown. You wade into to help a child and on your way back you realize that only 2 other people are helping, while one is just standing there watching and the other 6 have wandered off.
Once you’ve saved one child, do you just leave? Probably not, you’d probably go in to get another. And what about a third child? You’d probably want to go yell or hit the person just standing there watching, but once you realize that a child will drown if you don’t save it, you will probably help.
In this instance, your action is what matters. The inaction of others wouldn’t stop you from trying to save the children. You’d probably try to save as many as you could.
Singer writes, their inaction simply makes them irrelevant.
Perhaps, its a tough word, a tough concept to swallow. But it sticks with me. I do this work because I don’t believe in being irrelevant. It’s not about fairness; it’s about action.
Read the book. Let me know what you think.
Want to find your suggested contribution? Give it a go.