Or, at the very least, of this week. Or month. Or year. We really can’t say that we care because, basically, we don’t. We just enjoy making fun of idiots.
So, without further ado, Esther Katcoff (which is not a feline respiratory disorder, or so we’re told by our crack Imperial Veterinary Team) and her anguish resulting from her feeling sorry for her guilt for being, well, alive. The Imperial ClueBat™, if you please. (h/t Maetenloch).
Someone is drowning in a lake and you are watching. She is sinking lower and lower, her head tossed back so that she can just barely manage a gulp of air. You can save her. Most people would argue that ethically you must save her. In his 1971 essay “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” ethicist Peter Singer compares the general moral obligation to help the drowning to every privileged individual’s moral obligation to alleviate global poverty.
Wait. Before we go any further, you ARE talking about the renowned “ethicist” Peter Singer whose “ethical” positions, among others, include how raping dumb animals is actually OK since Fluffy probably likes it anyway as well as how extending the time limit for killing babies to spare them the pain of birth defects ought to be extended to 28 days past delivery, right?
We shall generously refrain from pointing on on just how many levels using “ethics” and “Peter Singer” in the same sentence is oxymoronic because we’re not authoring a doctoral thesis here, we’ll just leave it at noting that you, like Singer, is a moron. We have more important things to do here, chief of which is to make merciless fun of you while whacking your clueless dome repeatedly with the Imperial Fisking ClueBat. Onwards and upwards, McDuff:
People all over the world are dying.
You don’t say? Last we checked, “life” was the only known sexually transmitted disease with 100% mortality, but do go on.
They are suffering and we are watching. It is immoral, says Peter Singer, not to do everything in our power to help them.
And the fact that his lips didn’t immediately burst into flames and fall off after he used the word “immoral” is still a mystery to scientists all over the world.
iPods, spankin’ new cars, vacations to Disney World… we spend money on these things instead of paying for life-saving surgeries, feeding hungry children or investing in third world economies. According to Singer, the fact that we don´t need to watch the poor suffer doesn´t change the fact that they are drowning and we know it. And we let them.
Supposedly, we should stick to sticking it to Fido while killing off our newborn.
I can’t claim that reading Singer’s essay was the reason I joined the Peace Corps, but it definitely instilled in me a sense of… duty? No, something more uncomfortable than that. The scratchy sand pressing all over you under your bathing suit on the way home from the beach.
That’s just crabs, dear. The shellfish kind. We’re sure you’re all too familiar with the other kind.
Ahhh… Finally, the center of your screed.
I’d been to Disney World. I’d gone on very expensive trips all over the world. And — the horror! — I had an iPod.
Listen, Esther, we’re not exactly fanbois of Apple’s, but no need to go overboard here.
But what to do about all that? Well, I started by not buying a new iPod after my old-school Nano broke. But would that help the hungry children of Africa? I couldn’t just donate the money saved. I was an Urban Studies major. I knew about the complications of development work, the band-aid solutions, the causes that just sound good, the charity that unmotivates the beneficiaries, the money that doesn’t always reach the ground. The only way, I told myself, the only way is to understand completely what the people need to fish themselves out of their lake. Then I could support them with my iPod money.
I tell people I joined the Peace Corps to understand what it means to be poor, but that´s just part of the story. I joined the Peace Corps to figure out how to escape the guilt of having so much while other people have so little.
So you didn’t really join the Peace Corps to help anybody else, you joined to help yourself escape your guilt from having owned an iPod? Noble, selfless, heroic, even. Can you hold while we call the Vatican, please?
Well, now I’m in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and surprised to find that it was not the way to go for moral masturbation.
Here in my rural-ish urban community in Paraguay, I am living in a vat of perpetual boiling hot guilt. And I’ve found that I am not the only one. All of the following causes us volunteers to feel that little pang in the chest that means we are doing something pretty horrible:
Yay: Unintended consequences. Probably should have just replaced that damn iPod, no?
1) Taking time for ourselves
We feel guilty for staying in the house all day, or for being out of site and missing our neighbors’ birthday sopa. We feel guilty for watching a movie alone instead of with some Paraguayan neighbors. We’re servants of the community, right? It’s supposed to be a full-time job. Every hour spent watching a movie is an hour we could have helped a child with his homework. Every trip to visit a friend is a leadership retreat for teenagers that never had the chance to happen.
Not quite sure how you not attending a birthday party that would not have been attended by you anyway if you hadn’t been there in the first place is making the situation worse here, we’re pretty sure that young Alphonso who didn’t even know you existed until you showed up to make yourself feel better isn’t going to be devastated because you’re not going to help him blow out the candles. But we are sure that you feel pretty bad about missing an opportunity to make you feel better about yourself.
How unselfish of you. We should build a monument to you. Really, we should. We are not worthy to walk in your enlightened presence.
2) Not sharing personal possessions
Just this week I was called a bruja for not lending my computer to someone. And maybe I am a bruja. Families share with me whatever little food they have and I share nothing. I feel like the meanest witch alive.
Maybe you’re just somebody who needed it for something else.
But, again, you started out insinuating, at least, that this was going to be an article about how you’re hurting people you only want to help. Right now, you’re only whining about how being called a witch for not sharing something that wasn’t even there to begin with until you showed up is making you feel bad.
Our heart bleeds for you.
3) Being too chuchi (fancy)
How can we live in a house with a modern bathroom if no one else has one? How can we buy the chuchi chocolate from America when our neighbors can’t afford a bag of rice? How can we be paying someone to wash our clothes, how can we go on vacation, how can we have hot water, how can we have running water, arrrrghhhhhhh!
So you’re saying that you not using your bathroom is going to auto-magically provide everybody else with one? OK, fair enough. We like to end the working day with a few cold ones. Tomorrow, we won’t. We fully expect reports to come rolling in immediately from all of the otherwise beverage-deprived people in the world suddenly discovering beers appearing in their refrigerators. We’ll ignore the reports from brewers concerned that their sales have gone down because of our strike, because they don’t matter. They’re the 1%, after all.
And again, you seem an awful lot more concerned about your own guilt than about the lack of bathrooms among your less fortunate neighbors.
4) Being unsustainable
Apparently the whole point of this helping others thing is sustainability. Don’t give stuff to the community, get them to work for it themselves! So, that sounds awesome… until you have the opportunity to get 40 free pairs of reading glasses from America. You can nix the freebees or you can help 40 impoverished ancianos to read again. But then you have to accept the hot-headed guilt that comes with it, the possibility that you jeopardize your community’s motivation because they realize the truth that their lives would be so much easier if the first world shared some of its money.
Ah yes. If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach him to fish, he’ll eat forever. It’s all new to you, isn’t it? And it makes you feel so guilty. You. YOU. It’s all so fucking unbearable. How can you stand it, Mother Theresa?
5) Failing to save the world
You failed to save the world? For shame!!! It’s not like millions of people have already failed on that impossible quest (hint: the world needs to focus on saving its fucking SELF), but you, YOU, YOU FAILED! You must DIE, you miserable witch!!!
A couple weeks ago, a 9-year-old girl showed up at my house for the first time. I was surprised by the visit and amazed — María had come a long way since she first joined our girls group six weeks before. She was the girl who smiled but rarely spoke, and even then rarely in Spanish — only in the indigenous language Guarani. And now she popped by just to hang out. But something struck me as odd, as I glanced at my pizza in the oven and then at my watch. The time was 11:50. Almost lunch time… the holy hour of the only meal that really gets eaten in Paraguay.
¨María, what time do you have to be home?¨ I asked her.
¨No, my mother isn’t cooking today,¨ she replied.
¨What?¨ I was shocked. Even the poorest families I know eat something for lunch, even if not very much. ¨Aren’t you hungry?¨
She told me no, she’d had tortillas at 5AM.
It wasn’t a question of feeling generous and tossing a dollar at a beggar child on the street. This was María. My María. Her immune system, her literacy rate, her confidence level and her general growth rate all depended on me in that moment. I shared my pizza with her.
And, with that, her immune system became an impregnable fortress against all assailants, present and future, her future as a Nobel Science Prize winner was assured, she became the next president of her country and she grew to be 7 feet tall. All because of YOU. YOU. YOU, Esther, that one pizza changed the world! How awesome are you? And how utterly despicable are all of those who AREN’T you, but don’t let that detract from YOUR article about how it’s really everybody ELSE who’s to blame.
She ate every bite. Even the green pepper and onions sprinkled on top… and you would be hard-pressed to find a child where I live who would eat a vegetable you can see. Then she asked me what I was making for dinner.
I immediately felt thrown into a moral crisis. All my guilt — for leaving site, for being too chuchi, for not sharing and for being unsustainable — charged forth dressed for battle.
I can’t feed her every single meal. I can’t be responsible for this little girl.
Your use of the first person singular is becoming quite symptomatic at this point.
Stop being selfish. Yes, you can. You make more than enough on your Peace Corps stipend to feed another person.
But what about her eight siblings? What about her neighbors? What about everyone else who is falling through the cracks? How can I do this just for her?
You took a vacation to Peru. You did that instead of feeding a little girl.
It’s not even sustainable to buy her food, I should try to develop the soup kitchen at our local community center instead.
You know that is unrealistic. The soup kitchen is open for three lunches a week and is already a strain for the women who cook. You are going to stand back and watch this little girl fall.
All this seems to me a pretty depressing lose-lose situation. Either I ignore the hunger of a child, or I create jealousy amongst her peers. And either way she will be hungry again next year after I go back to America. How do I cope with all of this burden? How do any of us cope?
OK, quit whining about how bad YOU feel, you selfish twat.
You’re right. YOU can’t change the course of the world, but YOU can do what YOU can do. And one of the things you CAN do, if you’d take the time to use your brains, is to make sure that this world HAS reservoirs of affluence that can help out when help is needed. The United States is one of those reservoirs. We have more than we need, no doubt about it, and you will find that the most generous of people on this planet live in this nation. But we can only be generous as long as we ARE affluent. As long as people like you who haven’t really contributed to our affluence yet STILL have enough to hand out without starving ourselves.
And systematically destroying everything that MADE us affluent because of “unfairness” and “unsustainability” is NOT going to help those “less fortunate” among us that you claim to champion while still spending all of your time whinging about how bad it makes YOU feel.
Making us “more like them” only means that they won’t have anybody to come to when they’re deep in the shit because we’re too fucking busy keeping our own noses above water.
Quit wasting your time feeling “guilty” about how well you’re doing and spend less time gazing at your own eco-friendly, sustainable navel. Spend that time on making this nation a dynamo for growth, a teacher to the rest of the world on how to kick poverty’s arse, and spend the profits of your activities, the profits that you don’t need, on teaching the rest of the world how to do the same.
And, for the love of G-d, spend a lot less time considering yourself the center of the universe.
Also, quit worshiping a creature who is an advocate for raping animals and murdering infants.