Post by default Post by Alex W.
In the past, there may not have been practical ways of "doing no harm"
by action or omission when it came to those in far-flung lands. Today,
there are systems in place where this excuse is no longer given. So
when Doctors Without Frontiers come calling for donations, is my refusal
to donate not a direct act of harming those who need medical services?
If you think you have a duty to the 7 billion people on the planet
to see to their care when they cannot, you will be morally compelled
to live as an ascetic and donate your surplus to charity. That still
won't solve he problem, because resources, while not finite, grow too
slowly to match wants, which can be infinite. I won't speak to needs
as people disagree as to what they are. This is an impractical goal.
Take care of yourself and those you have assumed a duty to help. Others
will force duties on you that may be impractical or even impossible
to avoid. (Taxes, theft, court judgments -just or unjust, conscription.)
Let charitable giving be an expression of your benevolence towards
your fellow human. Give to MSF or the Red Cross or whoever because
they are working to make the world the kind of place where we'd like
to live. Remember it is a gift and not a tax. You are not obligated.
On the state to state level, the US should follow JQ Adams' advice;
A quote by John Quincy Adams,
America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among
them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the
hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity.
She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often
to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and
of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without
a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while
asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference
in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to
which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has
seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama
the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging
right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall
be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But
she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher
to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator
only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of
her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that
by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the
banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power
of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual
avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard
of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change
from liberty to force. The frontlet on her brows would no longer beam with
the ineffable splendor of freedom and independence; but in its stead would
soon be substituted an imperial diadem, flashing in false and tarnished
lustre the murky radiance of dominion and power. She might become the
dictatress of the world; she would be no longer the ruler of her own
spirit.... Her glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march
of the mind. - Address to Congress, Independence day 1821.
John Quincy Adams - address as Secretary of State to the House of Representatives (4 July 1821) [quote
Post by default
Do no harm. It isn't limited to political boundaries.
But I'm not going to be drawn into a nit picking discussion.