It Doesn’t Affect Us, So Why Should We Care?

SummaryAcknowledgementIntroductionWhy Should We Help?The BenefitsThe Venture ItselfHow to Avoid the Marie Antoinette SyndromeThe Action PlanConclusionSelected Bibliography


Why should we care? We could quite happily live our rich Canadian lives and never have to worry — ever — about poor people halfway around the globe. It doesn’t affect us in the least.

Maybe at one time that statement was true, but it is not anymore, for several reasons. First, the attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001, illustrated that North America is vulnerable to foreign terror plots and organizations such as Al Qaeda. Such organizations find haven in desperately poor countries, for example, Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Sachs, 2005, p. 215)

“We need to address the deeper roots of terrorism in societies that are not part of global prosperity, that are marginalized in the world economy, that are bereft of hope . . . . The rich world . . . [needs] to commit its efforts even more to economic development than to military strategies.” (Sachs, 2005, p. 216)

Helping to provide a better life for the poor in such countries would surely defuse the danger of more attacks on North America.

Second, global warming could be worsened by developing countries with such a low standard of living that they overuse carbon-based fuels out of desperation. This situation, already worrisome, could become dire if not addressed. Helping developing countries, especially in their energy needs, would allow us all to live without the effects of environmental devastation.

Third, the AIDS orphans in Africa are growing up without parents to guide and supervise them and are facing an uncertain future. Right now, an estimated 10 million children are orphans in Africa because of AIDS (Sachs, 2005, p. 201), and that number will only increase. These children are being reared by older siblings, some as young as eight, and by grandmothers, who are (the true heros) (Lewis, 2005, p. 50). These grandmothers have buried their own children and now care for their dead children’s orphans. One of these indomitable women is shown in the photograph below.


Figure 7: A grandmother in Malawi and her orphaned grandchildren

(Sachs, 2005, plate facing p. 174)

The grandmother in this photograph is the only caregiver left alive to her orphaned grandchildren. The grandmothers will leave an unimaginable void when they pass on. What will happen to the children? They could perhaps be recruited by terrorist organizations, or worse. Helping Africa, and thereby helping these children, means helping ourselves in the long run by avoiding unimaginable human catastrophes in the future.

Next, if the people in a country are strong, that country generally moves towards democracy, and democratic countries usually mean fewer wars and internal conflicts. The more countries in the world become democratic, the safer the world becomes. (Dyer, 2004, pp. 114-115) Many African countries have become democratic in the last decade (Sachs, 2005, p. 315). These governments are still shaky, but if the people become stronger, the governments can become stronger. Anything we can do to help the people, especially the impoverished, become stronger will improve their country’s governance, reduce conflicts, and increase world peace.

Finally, helping developing countries is the right thing to do. If the new globalization means that we are all interconnected, we have an ethical obligation to help our fellow human beings. So alongside the many reasons of self-interest, the altruistic reason takes its own place as well.


Read More: It’s Their Own Fault If They Are PoorJared Diamond and Western (Cargo)Ineffective AidMuhammad Yunus and MicrocreditUnscrupulous PeopleThe SystemGrameen BankIt Doesn’t Affect Us, So Why Should We Care?The Poor Will Always Be With UsThere Is No Point In Giving AidWhere Does All The Money Go?Africa’s Onerous ChallengesAfrica’s Extreme PovertyCorruption and Poor GovernanceLack of Modern Values and Free Market EconomiesA Population Explosion?Why Not Leave It to the United Nations and the World’s Governments?The UNThe Governments of the WorldGrassroots Movements