To care, or not to care?
A friend kindly sent me a link to a story about the plight of Zimbabwean children in the face of the country’s social and economic meltdown. On a different day, I’d be tempted – as entertainingly as possible so as not to come across as a dull, liberal bore – to make some point about the ethical significance of the quality of life disparity between the Zimbabwean child in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean child in the Diaspora, and the average European child. But since we’ve already established that we generally don’t care about the plight of hundreds of missing foreign children, why bother?
Instead, I’m going to ask a different type of ethical question. Western liberal societies tend to project a certain ethical standard; one that, among other things, prioritises human rights, individual freedom, the equality of all people, and so forth. But is that really what the people who make up these societies believe? Or when push comes to shove, when upholding those liberal values comes to cost us something, are we all Hobbesians who believe that the state of nature is a war of all against all? Are we really pragmatic Darwinists who believe in the concept of natural selection and survival of the fittest?
Is the answer anything but academic? I think it is. If the liberal rhetoric that we freely espouse is no more substantive than a politician’s election promises, then paying any heed to it is at best, silly. Besides, my new year’s resolution to not Bug Out includes not repeating and trying to build arguments based on make-believe.
If that is the case, if there isn’t really a moral code, at least not one that so-called liberal societies really hold to, if the state of nature really is a war of all against all, then perhaps it is time to stop behaving as though the plight of Zimbabwean children, or the disappearance of hundreds of minors from Irish state care, matters in the slightest?