WARNING: Millest gets on his high horse...


Okay, I've been putting off writing something like this at the risk of sounding a bit holier-than-thou.

But I've also realised that I need to start being less coy about what is driving me in terms of where I wish to focus my career efforts.

Both because it will help friends and family who are interested to understand, and also because I will feel better about being more open about my motivations.

In November last year a national newspaper printed as their front news story a picture of an 18 year old girl who was falling victim to the Yemen crisis. It was really quite shocking. She was quite literally skin and bones. As gruesome as it sounds, she looked more like a skeleton than a human being.

As I'm sure is the case with many of us, I have for a long time been moved by the injustices of the world, and the extreme suffering and poverty than exists in developing countries; but for some reason, this particular image stuck with me.

Philosopher Peter Singer has the following thought experiment:

If you were walking along and saw a child drowning in a pond, and were wearing a suit worth £2,000, you would almost certainly jump into the pond to save the child, ruining your expensive suit. Singer asks then what is the difference between that, and sacrificing a similar amount to save a child dying from starvation on the other side of the world? And he argues that there is no difference.

This is clearly a controversial debate. I'm not entirely sure where I stand, although I have to say I am inclined to agree with Singer.

Now, I can't claim to be a saint. I can't claim to be able to take that philosophy completely whole-heartedly. There are certain luxuries that I don't know that I could ever sacrifice. I imagine I will always want to be able to share a few beers with friends - beers whose cost could pay for 3 or 4 children to be treated for neglected tropical diseases that would allow them to be sure of being well enough to attend school.

But it is the essence of this philosophy - the idea that we should not be apathetic to the great problems of fellow human beings just because they are separated from us by land and sea - is certainly something that has been bubbling away in my sub-conscious for a long time, and which now is coming to the fore of my decision making.

More on this next week.


Previous Posts