The rise of poverty in the world is at a staggering all-time high. Especially in impoverished nations where the government cannot support the population alone, and thus aid from charities is needed. A film that I saw a while back was Slumdog Millionaire. It’s about a young boy who is living in a poverty-stricken slum in India, where he ends up becoming orphaned upon his mother’s death. The life of impoverished and orphaned children is shown by slum mafia gang abductions, that result in the children being forced to become street beggars. A scene that still stuck to me after all these years is when one of the child beggars get his eyes forcibly removed by one of the gang members, in order for him to look more pitiful, and in turn raise his chances of receiving more money from passersby through sympathy. Of course, this could have been prevented, had there been an effective system of reducing poverty and taking care of orphans that come from poor backgrounds. The only means of this ever happening in countries like India is through international aid from charities, which is what I’m going to be talking about, as well as the significance of said organizations.
Coming from an Indian background, I’ve heard stories similar to the ones portrayed in the film from my parents. It is an all to real of a reality back home, because of the widespread poverty and corruption that runs rampant. Therefore, Peter Singer’s philosophy of affluence and global poverty really hit home to me. My definition of his philosophy in this context would be treat other people the way you want to be treated. Although this is usually used in terms of not bullying or berating others, I like to think of it as helping others, in a sense that you want their lives to be as well-off as yours, and if you were in their shoes, you would want to be helped as well. If we individuals that are living so comfortably in our first-world countries, that have no need to worry about slums or forced child begging, then what is the reason for us not to help support those countries where this this is a reality, in hopes of lessening the impact to those that it affects? What I’m trying to convey is that international aid is vital in these situations for the impoverished to thrive. According to Singer, “if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it”. By supporting those charities in India that help the poorer communities in slums by sending their children to schools, and building orphanages for the orphans, we are essentially preventing the bad occurrences such as the gang activity to overtake those communities. Moreover, the nothing morally significant will be sacrificed from us rather than a few dollars, which to those impoverished individuals can dictate whether or not they live to see another day. On the same note, this supports my definition of Singer’s philosophy I had stated earlier. If we somehow found ourselves in a third world country in a situation very similar to those living in the slums of India, of course we would want to be helped out of that situation. We would rely on any means necessary for us to go back to our old lives of wealth and comfort rather than living in the dangerous condition of poverty and disease that runs rampant in everyday slum life. Therefore, if we cannot bring ourselves to be placed in the shoes of someone from a slum, then why should we continue to let those individuals live the way that they are?
On the same tangent, we cannot discriminate against those living in India, just because they’re oceans apart from where we are living in Canada. This again fits in with my definition of philosophy, for it supports the idea of supporting our fellow human, regardless of where they are located. This humanitarian aspect is also explained through Singer’s arguments, as he states that “if we accept any principle of impartiality, universalizability, equality, or whatever, we cannot discriminate against someone merely because he is far away from us (or we are far away from him)”. Regardless of where the person is located, it is still our duty to help support them, just because they are humans as well, and we have no right to assume that just because they are suffering far away from us, their suffering isn’t valid, nor are their lives. In terms of Singer’s philosophy, we should donate to charities and organizations that help reduce the corruption and improve the livelihood of those living in slums. It is therefore imperative for the people living in richer nations to contribute towards reducing, and eventually eradicating the concept of slums and the human rights abuses that take place within those environments. Since Singer’s arguments essentially revolve around charity towards to poor and that it is a human right for everyone to live with a morally balanced and ethical life, we should take this into consideration and donate to charities involved with this type of work improving the lives of the impoverished. Organizations such as UNICEF, World Vision, and even NGOs strive to build infrastructure within these communities that help boost education, reduce disease, and maintain an effective policing system that prevents gang activity to take over and rule the people. In terms of the movie, the poor children that were subjected to the tortures by the gang members would be spared from a lifetime of begging if there was enough support from organizations and charities to help the lives of those orphans. In a greater sense, enough support from charities would eventually result in the slum environment to be eradicated, and those children that were shown as beggars in the movie, could’ve had a chance to live successful lives with a job and education.
Based on my definition of philosophy, I engage in food drives and donating to food banks, sponsored from my local temple. These food drives help the homeless in Vancouver through provide enough meals for them to not go hungry. The reason why I consider donating once a month is because of the assumption that if I ever were to go homeless, I would appreciate the fact that there are people looking out for me, through means of donations of food. It’s a give-and-take situation, one that can be attributed to the idea “today you, tomorrow me”. Although I haven’t really done and donations to charities internationally (mainly because I have not got the money to do so at the time), I like to give back to the community at a local level in the beginning, and as I get more experienced in supporting the poor through these types of donations, I’ll move on to a more global scale of monetary donations to charities.