Josh Bolinger: Why Worry About Developing Countries?
I am asked so often, why do you bother to worry about developing countries? It’s so far away.
Yes, in some cases, it is very far away. But, in the case of Brazil, where I lived for quite some time, it’s not very far away at all. But that’s really beside the point. Because human suffering knows no distance. People who live every day in abject poverty, with no food, no water, no education, no medical assistance, are not made to feel better knowing that people who can help them are three hundred or three thousand miles away.
Pain and suffering does not fade with distance. Maybe we can make our perception of it fade with distance, but that’s just a type of rationalization, and it’s intellectually dishonest.
So, we have the first point, which is that in developing countries, the suffering is so much more acute. The amount of pain and vulnerability in these areas is so much higher than what we are used to seeing. I mean, I’ve been homeless, and I’ll tell you one thing – in the US, even a homeless person can go to the emergency room and get a broken leg set. A homeless person can walk up to a drinking fountain and get cleaner water than is available to most of the people who live on this planet. A homeless person can walk into a library and read a book, or use a public computer to go online.
In the developing world, there just isn’t any clean water to be had, at all. People drink filth and get dysentery or cholera. There is, in many cases, no medical care whatsoever. A broken limb can be a death sentence. There are no books, there is no internet, there are no resources to improve one’s lot in life.
But, interestingly, this is also the environment in which your money has the most power to help. Let’s face it, the American dollar goes a lot further in these places, and you can do a tremendous amount of good with what might seem like a small donation.
Why worry about developing countries? Because, people are suffering terribly, and we have tremendous power to help them.