Are You Generous?

The Paradox Of Right Now And Far Away

By Ange Fonce

There is a teacher and ethicist called Peter Singer who shares an "ethical puzzle" with his students... he asks them to "imagine" that their route to the university takes them past a pond... and he says to them...

"One morning... you notice a child has fallen in the pond and appears to be drowning... to wade in and pull the child out would be easy yet it will mean that you get your clothes wet and muddy... and by the time you go home and change you will have missed your first class."

He then ask the students... 

"Do you have any obligation to rescue the child?" 

Unanimously... the students say they do... the "importance" of saving a child so far outweighs the cost of getting their clothes muddy and missing a class... that they refuse to consider it as any kind of excuse for not saving the child. 

He then asks...

"Does it make a difference... that there are other people walking past the pond who would equally be able to rescue the child and are not doing so?" 

No... the students reply...

"The fact that others are not doing what they ought to do is no "reason" why I should not do what I ought to do."

The "paradox" comes in when Singer points out that if it is a "moral imperative" to save this child at the cost of ruining a pair of shoes and our cloths in the "right now"... so we "act" instantly... the "child" has more "value" then our cloths and shoes and missing a lesson.

Now ... consider this... we certainly face that same "imperative" every day... it may not be "right now"... yet it is certainly going on "far away." 

By the simple act of using PayPal or setting up a bank direct debit... we can send £20 somewhere in the world and with certainty... "save the life of a child"... and we do not have to ruin our cloths and shoes and miss a lesson "doing it"... yes the child is "far away"... yet he or she is still a child and is still dying... "right now!"

The "question" is...

"Will we still "value" that child who is "far away" and dying "right now?"

So what is the difference? 

Let us "understand" the "two key" differences...

1... CLOSE & RIGHT NOW... 

The first child is dying right in front of me... RIGHT NOW... the shame I "feel" in "looking away" is palpable... especially if I have the "means" to "help"... many times we act "generously" or "heroically" because to avoid doing so is to risk being "shamed."

Peter Singers challenge points out many things... and this is one of them... when someone "calls you out" in public... it is "close" and it is "right now"... and it is directly "emotionally personal."

2... GRATITUDE...  

Even though it might not be at the top of "mind"... the fact is that once we pull someone out of the pond... we "anticipate" that they will "thank us"... and so will the community... in fact... if that did not happen... if the child just walked away and no one noticed... we would more than likely be "perplexed" or even "angry"... for not even receiving a simple  "thank you."

And this is the "problem" that everything "outside" of your "right now" faces... others are "working" to "solve" difficult problems "far away"... they are working to do something that is neither "close" nor "right now"... and often because the work is so hard... there is no satisfactory "thank you"...   certainly not the "thank you" of... we are done... you are a hero.

The challenge for "real growth" then... is to become "aware" in our "psychology" that what is going on in our "emotional right now"... is also going on "far away"... yes we can "effect" change "right now"... we also have the power to "effect" change "far away"... by extending our Awareness and Empathy through others "awareness" and "empathy" who are dealing with "right now"... FAR AWAY!  

We can "donate" our "energy" to things through our "emotional intelligence" that are neither "close" nor "right now"... and that offer little in the way of "thanks"... and to "create change" that "transforms" our "current perceptions" of what is "important."

We are "learning" that the most "important problems" to "solve" and find "solutions" for are the "long term" ones... the "far away" ones... the ones where our "right now" instincts do not lead to "emergency situations."

The "right now" is not useless... when we use the "right now" to "work on" and find "solutions" for the "probable problems" of the "future"... so the child does not have to be in the pond... dying "right now" in the first place... and you have to take emergency action "right now" to save them!

As the saying goes...


Yet there is a 3rd element to this "ethical puzzle"... that is hardly ever discussed... and I would like to add to that puzzle this "question?"

"What would you do when you have the "power" to "help" and makes things "better"... and you are actively "refused" and "resisted"... the child in the pond does not "want" to be "saved" and is intent on... "self destruction"... what would you do then?"

We will discuss this "ethical paradox" in another article... when "ethics" come into "conflict" with each other and you find yourself "stuck" in the "moral maze."

So for this article I will ask you this "question?"

"Do you save the child "right now" or... "respect" their "choice" to "self destruct?"

And let us add another "frame" to that "question?"

"Do you save an "adult" right now... or respect their "choice" to "self destruct?"

And is there a "difference" between saving a "child" who is intent on "self destruction"... against saving an "adult" who is intent on their own "self destruction?"

Think about it... and "imagine" what you would do? 

Because they are in the pond drowning... "right now!"

Thank you and may you enjoy a Prosperous and Dynamic day!

Yours Sincerely


Ange is an  Author... Speaker... and Dynamic Peak Performance Personal Development Consultant... and Humanistic Counselling Psychologist who works with men and women on line and real world who desire to "personally develop" themselves and their "relationships" to become Dynamic Lifers... "creators" of their own life and wealth!

Recommended Reading...

What Ever Happened To Our Sweetest Songs? 

By Ange Fonce

The word “crisis” has become a “constant”... spattering the daily headlines... its once intense “urgency” has become devalued  by being continually used to describe “transient” difficulties in our everyday lives.

Yet... there is a “crisis”... a REAL crises... a crushing crisis of “confidence” in the future... an ever increasing “conviction” by countless people throughout the world... at the very heart of human a...

Join today and become one of the Tribe... a DYNAMIC Lifer... and if you want to "share" or "forward to a friend" a writing... please go ahead... and let them know they can receive their own writings via e mail by directly joining The Tribe of Dynamic Lifers The DYNAMIC Express Magazine... I am sure they will "appreciate your consideration" of them.

Dynamic Life Development Systems 

Personal Development Academy