One of the most obvious things I assert is also the thing that bothers people the most. It’s that most of us tend to fret or show compassion over trivial or questionable things while we ignore the catastrophic circumstances that plague so many people around the world.
A great recent example is the effort to “find Paco”, a dog that was “lost” by Delta Airlines during a trip back to (the UK?) from Mexico. As with most stories like this, the perception at first glance is heart wrenching. But then the facts clear up why this story is ridiculously overblown.
Paco was a stray, picked up by a tourist couple, who then had him shipped home. It appears he escaped from his cage while on the tarmac in Mexico City and (I’m speculating here) headed back to the places where he’s more comfortable living. Sad for the couple, but hardly all that newsworthy, especially given the apparent outrage against Delta.
Delta’s offer to credit the couple only $200 for a lost pet was obviously a stupid move on their part, but I resent that people don’t get all the facts out there when trying to push these stories to a gullible public. If you are a compassionate person you MUST IGNORE PACO and spend your time thinking about the daily deaths of thousands from Malaria, rotovirus, and lack of clean water. Yes that task is more than overwhelming, but the whimpy “Find Paco” sentiment that people think makes them a “compassionate person” does nothing of the kind – it hardens them to the plight of millions who live in conditions we could largely fix if people would pay as much attention to that as they pay to missing stray dogs in Mexico. (How? If the developed world cut defense and entitlement spending by about 10% we could rebuild most of the developing world’s infrastructure IN ONLY A FEW YEARS. The strategic benefits alone would be staggering, but military enthusiasts are too blinded by irrational post-cold-war thinking while entitlement enthusiasts are too busy sending subsidies to the American lower and middle class, who contrary to our constant whining cost far more in bureaucracies and benefits than we pay for (can you say “National Debt”?)
The millions spent sending poor Free Willie back into the wild also comes to mind (he died soon after, lacking the skills needed to survive). Did people seriously think Willie would be happier in the wild? It was as if their *need* to fight against captivity programs trumped the animal’s own well being.
So instead of fretting over things that don’t matter much, why not pick your favorite extreme poverty charity and help out – then you can feel good…. AND actually do some good too! Here’s a start: http://twitter.com/charitywater