More Thoughts on Giving

I’m confused by the issue of what distinguishes an ethical donation from an unethical donation. I believe, like Joe’s last post suggests, that it is the percentage given from one's earnings that matters more than the dollar amount. But even here, it is difficult to clarify what counts as sufficient.

Should we give everything we have so as to compromise our own health? Or should we give everything except what we need to pay our bills and buy groceries? May we save a little bit of money to buy a beer or see a movie, or would that be placing our wants above their needs? Basically, what must we (citizens or governments) sacrifice in order to meet the standards of a morally unobjectionable donation?

1 comment:

Joe said...

Good question. My approach, which isn't entirely consistent I guess, is that the idea of living an "ethical" life is bologne. We can't be pure. There are always people in the world who need our help, and we are often not helping them. I guess this is another way that my religious background has survived. We're all sinners. I take this attitude from thinkers like Martin Luther, Martin Buber, Levinas, and H.Richard Niebuhr, and that's the idea that we are infinitely responsible to our suffering neighbors. Even if I didn't cause their suffering, I am responsible for helping them by virtue of the fact that I am aware of them. But, with so much suffering, with so many people, I am drenched in sin from head to toe.
Back to the question of giving. I don't think I have any ethical excuse to not dedicate every second of every day to alleviating suffering. So, technically, that beer and movie are immoral, I guess, but so is just about everything I do.