The dilemma goes like this. There is a burning building, inside is a child and a Picasso painting. You can only save one, which do you choose?
“What dilemma?” I hear you cry. “There’s no dilemma, OBVIOUSLY you save the child!” Obviously you do…although…hmmm…if you save the Picasso, you could sell it and buy mosquito nets for Africa, potentially saving thousands of children (and before anyone says it, yes I know the Picasso probably wouldn’t be ours to sell, but this isn’t a real scenario people, we’re just discussing the concept!). Saving the Picasso therefore potentially results in a greater good. I came across this dilemma on a BBC news article in December about giving to charity, and it keeps popping back into my mind, so I thought I’d share it with you – hey don’t mention it, it’s what I’m here for!
So the dilemma remains. Even if we accept the logic that saving the Picasso would potentially do more good, if it came to it, if we were really in that position and faced with that decision, how many of us could actually turn our backs on that child that is right in front of us? It’s far easier to turn our backs on the thousands of children in Africa who need us, we can’t see those children, we can’t hear their cries, they’re easier to ignore. Ouch.
What does the decision say about us? Are we being human and compassionate by saving the child in front of us, by reacting to that direct need and cry for help in front of us? Or are we being hugely selfish and just doing that for ourselves, because we couldn’t live with ourselves if we had turned away from the child in need that was right in front of us? But if our instinct is to save the child in front of us, then maybe that is the right decision? After all, our human instincts have evolved to where they are for a reason. Or have we evolved to think beyond our instincts rather than blindly follow them? Which is it?
Goodness, this is pretty intense stuff compared to what usually goes on around here isn’t it. I don’t offer an apology for that though, it’s good sometimes to question ourselves, and what motivates us. Clearly the concept I’m discussing here doesn’t just apply literally, we can no doubt relate it wider.
Any thoughts? (Preferably thoughts related to what I’ve just written about, but not necessarily, I’ll take any thoughts).
While we’re talking about mosquito nets (and this wasn’t the original purpose of writing this post, but it seems a shame to waste the opportunity), if you want to help the fight against malaria, you can donate to the Against Malaria Foundation. A net costs $2.50, and 100% of public donations go on buying nets.