Are Human Beings Worth Fighting For?
Rousing public sympathy for bottle-nose dolphins is easy, and it might get your documentary film lots of awards. Saving whales, polar bears, pandas, snow leopards, wolves, tigers, rhinoceroses, and imprisoned industrial fowl will get you sympathy, money, media coverage, and maybe even a little pot-stirring controversy. Championing a cause that involves something that isn’t capable of defending itself has a high rate of charitable success.
Yet when it comes to vulnerable people, our brothers and sisters in far-off places and right down the street, we’re not much interested. Raising the public consciousness, mobilizing the politicians, and getting results on behalf of millions of starving North Koreans, brutalized Sudanese, and tortured Congolese is never easy. Indeed, based on our official policies of “do nothing until our oil is in jeopardy,” we’re content to let tens of millions of human beings suffer unimaginable hardships nearly as horrifying as the dolphins’ and bears’. That shouldn’t be surprise, one supposes. We decry universal health care as evil, a step toward “socialism,” that dirtiest of American words.
Maybe there’s a kind of species-based poetic justice at work. It is we, the human beings, who are chiefly responsible for the ills that befall our animal brethren. It’s we who are ruining Eden for everyone. We’re not the defenseless ones.
Still, even if you don’t subscribe to a hierarchy that places human beings at the top of the heap, you must still recognize that millions of human beings are victims (of other human beings). They’re essentially just as defenseless as a wolf being murdered by hunters in helicopters. The average North Korean is a victim. Yet we do nothing.
We fret and wring our hands and exclaim our regrets. But we do nothing.
If our fellow human beings aren’t worth fighting for, what is?