Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pop Quiz

A trash-picker makes his rounds shortly after the Jakarta flood in February

1. Is it immoral to eat three times a day if some people only eat once?

2. Is it immoral to pay $40 a month for a fancy gym if, from the window of said gym, you can see people living in a garbage dump?

3. When Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat cake," did she tell herself: "I'm doing my part. I'm promoting the local cake industry. A rising tide lifts all boats"?


emily said...

The silence is deafening, no?

I struggle with my family's "white privilege." I realize that I have what I have largely through an accident of birth, and it could all disappear in a heartbeat (heck, divorce caused a pretty big shift on its own.) No matter how much I give to other causes or reduce my footprint, I can't really justify the way I live, and I certainly can't see it as fair. Perhaps I tell myself that I can help on a more global scale by using my "wealth" to help others, and encouraging others to do the same, but I think that if the things you wrote of didn't bother me, I would cease to be fully human.

Robyn said...

I haven't commented for awhile but these are the sort of questions I've been asking myself since we first set foot in Asia 20+ years ago.
Will those eating one meal a day be better off if you don't eat three? Will those living in beyond substandard housing next to your gym raise their standard of living if you stop working out?
All you can do is try to do well - donate to and/or volunteer with a local org that deals with these issues, employ a local and pay them a fair wage and treat them like a human being (don't want to generalize but hey, there's a reason Asian maids generally prefer to work for non-Asians), buy a pedicab ride when you feel like walking even if it makes you feel like a big lazy-ass foreigner (speaking from experience), buy something from a vendor even if you're not hungry, give to a beggar when you feel it's appropriate (always a tricky call)...
And, talk about this stuff in your blog. It never hurts to remind the folks back home that it's a whole different world, in much of the world.
Hope you enjoy your trip back!