Across the globe in impoverished third world countries an estimated 50,000 children die of starvation every day (Quine 36). We have all seen the images of these children--bloated bellies, fly covered, bulging eyes--in television pleas by various charitable organizations. While these images sicken us, we idly sit by (often flipping the channel to avoid them), refusing to help these less fortunate kids. The problem is made worse by the ever-increasing population. Even the wealthy countries like our own now have a starvation problem (Quine 29). Admittedly, the problem here is less severe, but it still exists. With our current level of technology, the resources at our disposal, and a commitment to help those less fortunate, we can and must end starvation around the world before it gets worse. The main problem facing efforts to wipe-out starvation in third world countries is that people feel no connection to those children. The commercials appealing to our conscience and sympathies are ineffective because, even though the images are awful, the viewer feels removed from the people in the commercials. There is no connection because the commercial could be nothing more than a fictional image in a movie. We have all heard someone say, or possibly have said ourselves, "We should help our own people first." Intuitively, there is something to this thought. It doesn't make sense to us to pass over the starving in our own country to help children thousands of miles away. This, however, does not free us from our moral obligation to help those who are far away. What proponents of this view are pointing out is that we do have a problem in this country. That simply means we are morally obligated to do something about the starving people here also, not that we are not equally obligated to help people in other countries as well. As philosopher Bertrand Russell points out, "Physical proximity is not relevant to moral obligation" (Russell 153). Distance and
Cited: Frege, G. "Too Many People, Too Little Food," Newsweek. (Vol. 54; No. 13; January 15, 1999) pp Quine, W. V. O. The New Holocaust: Hungry Children Around the World, 8e. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 2000). Rogers, Karl. "Soccer Players Eat Smart and Survive," New York Times. (V. 185, N. 8; February 27, 1972) pp Russell, Bertrand. Proximity and the Poor. (New York: Blackwell; 1987). U.S. Census Bureau. Concise Guide to Facts & Numbers from the 2000 Census. (Washington, D.C.; 2000). Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Physiology and Anatomy of Homo Sapiens. (New York: Gable Press; 1986).