Today I started reading A British Dream by David Goodhart. It brought up the question for nation-states of who is owed allegiance, the entire world or the citizens of that nation. Jesus famously said “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21 English Standard Version). In today’s world a query that must be answered is who does Caesar owe his or her allegiance to. There is no doubt that we are in a global society, clearly our markets and lifestyle are altered by the occurrences in the entire world and not just the circumstances down the street.
The podcast The Ethicists, from New York Times Magazine, discusses ethical quandaries. One recent episode was on how international aid after major catastrophes should be divided between people who you personally have met and those who are unknown. An analogy was drawn that it makes sense for a parent to buy their child another toy and not feel the responsibility to make sure that every child in the world has at least one toy. This makes sense to a certain level, but it also makes you wonder how many toys can a parent buy for their child or how many luxuries can we provide for our family without feeling responsibility for the child with no toys/ the nation recently hit by a hurricane/ the person starving in Africa. When we buy a pair of jeans should we pay the difference between cheap jeans and fair trade jeans in a donation to a charity that ensures employee rights? How about the one dollar coffee that there is an almost certainty was not the result of fair payment and employment treatment throughout production? I don’t have an answer. I also know I haven’t previously even considered this.
Nations have to face these same questions but on a larger scale. Should every member of our nation be granted a free college education in exchange for decreasing our foreign aid? Should we provide a kindergarten through twelfth grade education to everyone with our tax dollars or should we use that money towards ensuring that every member of the world does not die of preventable illnesses? In our growingly intertwined world we are confronted by the great shared benefits and also the not so pleasant occurrences in every section of our world. I don’t think, and almost am certain that, it is not wrong for any nation’s wealth to be invested in their citizen’s future. However, I am also fairly certain that our consumeristic life styles tend to be arenas where we don’t naturally think of others.
I am not saying that I am comfortable with where I find myself in this arena. This morning I bought a pair of running shorts that cost around 50 dollars. This week I also got an email from the USA Center for the United Nation’s High Commissioner of Refugees requesting that I add to my monthly giving a one time donation towards clean water that would provide refugees with vital clean water. Even though I plan on writing for refugee’s economic needs for my master’s thesis I find myself using my money in the direction of myself. I am not saying sell all of your spare goods and give it away; however, I would request that you would join me in trying to be more mindful about where you use your money. I am not suggesting we make a formula like x percent goes to those in need internationally, just greater consideration of our international neighbors.
I would love to hear ways where you are being mindful of the needs of others, as I recognize my own lacking effort.