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Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Response To The Discussion In General, To Wick's Comment In Particular

First, her comment:

I can't tell you guys how many times you've brought up issues in this blog that I'm learning in class. It really makes me feel like the kiddie tagging along with the big people, and I probably have no business touching this kind of thing, seeing as how I don't understand government systematics and details, but I'm going to sneak in my not-even-worth 2 cents here (I actually just read an ethics book, unfortunately it was Peter Singer's, the child-rapist-looking asshole, and he talked about this issue more of less).

All in all when it comes down to it, isn't it ethics? Torpid obviously has a strong sense of helping people in need in a way that it actually makes a difference, and encouraging others to do so as well. Of course we'll never have a utopia, you can take a look at basic ecology and know that nature, and the design of life on this planet as we know it, has a system of living and dying, population rising and falling, new species and extinct ones, and competition for resources. Now it wouldn't be fair to use this to excuse not helping anyone ever, but it's just a way to point out we'll always have resource issues, people will always be in need (and doesn't the definition of what condition to be able to live and not live in fluctuate?).

But as Torpid's example said, what's the priority? Personal life pleasures or helping someone? I think all of us have scales of compassion vs guilt, and they usually keep us in check, but who's to say you can't help just by living a less wasteful life (tie in to the efficiency talked about earlier)? I look around and see so much wasted...and I know all the food from this campus that's thrown away could feed a great deal of the homeless in downtown St. Pete. But I haven't made it my mission to make a petition or organize meetings, talk to the dean of the school, or set up a system with a homeless shelter. As RM said earlier, we should help how much, to what extent? Responsibility is a tricky beast, and when it comes down to it, perspective is the whip that controls it.

Maybe I'm missing the whole point here, and that as Americans and the extremely generalized things we believe in, we 'should' make sure that charity has a more flawless way to distribute supplies. I guess I don't know.

I'd like to say I'd help someone who needed it if I saw it, and I can't explain how embarrassed I get by the display of wealth in my family, but I haven't been faced with a lot of situations. In the end I guess I just agree with what you guys said...sorry for the side rant.
Wick | 09.12.09 - 11:46 am |

and now, my response to her, and to the quandary in general that we have been discussing:

well, you know, we try to help :) and as always, there are no needs for apologies.

as usual, my friend, i'm afraid you self yourself short. you've shown here that you have quite a grasp on the issues at hand. believe in yourself. i do.

responsibility...yes, tricky indeed. but who says i have any responsibility to anything or anyone? the law, the threat of punishment? my morals? morals are subjective, and fear of pain is a terrible motivation for philanthropy.

my point being, i suppose, is that there is no 'right' answer here. as you said, definitions of a good or, at least livable, life are in flux. but so are the definitions of most everything else we're discussing here. what is poverty? what is wealth? what must a society provide to its downtrodden to be seen, and to actually BE, a good and noble society?

that last question is, as i see it, the crux of the matter here. and i can't see any system of logic which would allow us to reach one final and true solution that is agreeable to everyone. there is too much emotion involved, too much subjectivity. for all practical purposes, there is no objective reality to this.

so, what do we do? do what you believe is right. volunteer at a soup kitchen. start a letter writing campaign to Congress to increase welfare disbursements or food stamps or Medicaid. in the end, as with most things, moderation will out. the extremes will yell, and as their echoes receed towards the middle, they meet action. and that action, as it always is, will be a compromise.

and, as someone once said, a good compromise pleases no one.

good night, my dearest friends. and sweet dreams.


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