IS THERE A MORAL OBLIGATION TO GIVE TO THE NEEDS OF THE GLOBAL POOR IN DISTANT PLACES?
Hunger and poverty are still at the top of the list of challenges affecting people worldwide. In his speech on February 3, 2013, President Obama highlighted the concern of poverty; poverty in other countries affects even the developed countries. Throughout the past decade, countries have garnered efforts in helping sustain the people and eliminate poverty. Though changes and improvements have occurred, they are still inadequate. Statistics shows that up to date, over 1.2 billion people worldwide still languish in the effects of poverty. It shows a big part of the entire world population still continue living in abject poverty. There is a need to help eliminate the conditions in which the poor of the world live; most of them cannot do this on their own. It calls for efforts by governments, non-governmental organizations and people to help the victims out of the unbearable living conditions. Healthy living is a basic human right. Every person should be entitled to this right; the right to nutritious and adequate food, medical services and provision of basic needs. Too many people worldwide, this right is merely an illusion; this is not morally right.
Every person, government and organization worldwide has a moral obligation to help cater for the needs of the poor people in distant places. The extreme extent and prevalence of hunger and deep poverty is a moral outrage. The people should not just stand by while others suffer and die in extreme poverty. As stated earlier, the poverty other people experience affects even those who do not live in poverty. Humanity, thus, has the responsibility of helping other people out of the poverty-stricken conditions, and helping the in living better lives. In order to understand why helping poor people is a moral obligation, we must first discuss the condition of poverty and reasons why help provision is morally appropriate.
According to Yapa (3), over 3 billion people worldwide live on $2.50 a day; the global poverty crisis is a major concern, with a large party of the world in poverty. Only 5% of the world’s wealth is owned by the poor, whereas, 75% is owned by the wealthy. The gap between the rich and the poor is wide; this shows how wealth determines the value associated with life. It is morally questionable that some people own billions of dollars, whereas, others die in starvation and poverty. Every person should determine and do what he/she considers morally appropriate in helping alleviate poverty. Dealing with the global poverty concern should be a collective effort. Every person has the moral obligation of donating towards poverty relief; this applies even to individuals with an average income.
Freedom from the effects of severe poverty is a major concern in dealing with human interests worldwide. Humans are physical beings who require a regular supply of water, food, shelter, clothing, and medical services; the provision of these needs ensures healthy and quality living (Pogge, 1). People affected by extreme poverty lack or have limited access to necessities required for healthy living. Poverty, according to the World Bank, applies to all people who live below the international poverty line; they live on not more than $2 a day. Widespread poverty’s effects are unavoidable; people die, acquire diseases, live in deprivation and malnutrition due to lack of basic needs. An estimated two out of five children in developing countries are underweight or experience stunted growth. Millions of young children work to earn money for their families; they work as prostitutes, child soldiers, and domestic servants. The situation defies the moral need to provide children with basic needs, safety and education. It can only change if people worldwide develop a moral obligation towards helping the needy; this will not only improve life for the poor, but also result in a decrease of death rates associated with hunger and poverty (Pogge, 2).
Every person has human rights to basic requirements like food, shelter, clothing and medical services must be regarded as a moral human right. People, governments and international bodies should respect this right and create a moral obligation towards help the poor. The affluent members of the society should not disregard the need to rescue and feed people in poverty, through all possible efforts (Pogge, 10).
Efforts and decisions by human beings have the ability to end the consequences of poverty worldwide. It can occur through personal, national and international provision of donations, loans and grants, and voluntary services. Currently, there are efforts by non-governmental organizations, developed governments such as U.S.A. and international bodies like the World Bank and United Nations. The efforts are a significant step and have seen the provision of relief services in many affected areas. However, people still suffer and die due to poverty; people must realize their moral responsibility.
People have the ability to provide adequate funds for the alleviation of poverty worldwide. However, they are not willing to give or give insignificant contributions towards the cause (Singer, 230). It is considered morally wrong that many people have to suffer and die due to inadequate shelter, food, and medical services; this is especially when there are people who can help prevent the occurrence of such suffering (231). When a person can do something that is morally right, without sacrificing something of moral value, he/she should act appropriately. Giving a significant donation while at the same time ensuring the needs of those who depend on you are catered for, is recommended. If every person were willing to aid, the world’s conditions would fundamentally change.
Subsequently, the fact that the person that needs help may be around or in another continent should not be a determinant of who receives aid. People are more willing to help those near them, those they have personal contact with; they tend to overlook the plight of those who suffer in distant parts. There are also people miles away affected by poverty; the fact that they are far does not make them irrelevant. With fast transportation and instant communication, people can identify people in need worldwide. Now, that the world is a global village, moral obligations should spread; technological advancements make it possible to provide aid for people in distant countries with ease (Singer, 232).
Moral obligation to the poor does not mean a person must strain his/her finances. If every person worldwide was willing to help, within his/her ability, providing for the poor would be easy. For instance, if every affluent and average-earning person made contributions within their ability, the cumulative amount collected would be significant and beneficial to the provision of relief services. Joint effort is an easy way of meeting moral obligations; parties should work together in achieving this goal. Donations to the poor should not be considered charity works; it is a moral duty for every person. It is not right that many people overspend on lavish and unnecessary things while people die from starvation. It is a person’s duty to do everything possible in his/her power to prevent the demise and suffering of other people. For instance, a person can stop buying unnecessary things he/she does not need; this person can re-direct the money to a relief fund focused on the provision of basic needs to people who lack (Singer, 235).
Standing by and watching other people suffer is a moral ill. Many people argue that it is not their fault or concern that someone else is starving. The moral code is based on the overall willingness to help someone in need; the magnitude of the need does not matter. People should exhibit voluntary efforts in improving the quality of life for those who suffer. Suffering and poverty are real problems which will continue if active efforts do not occur towards their elimination (Singer, 242). Whether directly or indirectly, poverty affects even the lives of the affluent society members. The financial ability to end the poverty crisis remains within the means of the affluent people worldwide; determining innovative ways of soliciting donations will be significant towards the elimination of poverty (Yapa, 5).
Poverty, in its various forms, has constantly been a concern to countries and the international bodies. Close to a fifth of people in the world live in abject poverty; this requires a solution. One of the ways in ending the challenge is by making people realize their moral responsibility towards ending poverty. It has led to the development of strategies by people, governments and international bodies in eliminating its effects and prevalence. Thousands die of starvation daily; it is not right that various governments have enough resources to feed the world’s poor yet the death toll rises. Individuals have a moral obligation to aid the poor rise from poverty and live in better conditions. Those who are able should help the poor through; donations, grants and voluntary services. Through united effort, death, disease and starvation will reduce and eventually end.
Pogge, Thomas, W. ‘Severe Poverty as a Human Rights Violation.’ Ethical and human rights dimensions of poverty: towards a new paradigm in the fight against poverty. UNESCO Poverty Project. (2003): Web. Available from: < http://portal.unesco.org/shs/es/files/4363/10980840881Pogge_29_August.pdf/Pogge%2B 29%2BAugust.pdf > [Accessed April 16, 2014]
Singer, Peter. ‘Famine, Affluence and Morality.’ Philosophy and Public Affairs, Volume 1. No. 3. Blackwell Publishing (1972): Pages 229-243. Web. Available from: < http://pages.uoregon.edu/koopman/courses_readings/singer_famine_affluence_morality.p df > [Accessed April 16, 2014]
Yapa, Shanika. Moral Obligations and Poverty Appeals: an in-depth analysis of the human reaction to poverty appeals and individual moral obligation towards resolving the global poverty crisis. (2011): Web. Available from: < http://aladinrc.wrlc.org/bitstream/handle/1961/10020/Yapa,%20Shanika%20- %20Spring%20'11.pdf?sequence=1 > [Accessed April 16, 2014]