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Edward J. Murray Headshot

The Mosquito Net Dilemma

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How does "a moral person" escape the facts?

It seems that those of us counted among the upper-third of the world's wealthy (which even includes many folks receiving public assistance in Western Europe, the U.S.A. and Canada) have a major moral problem. It is within our power to save, perhaps, a million of our fellow citizens of the world every year (mostly babies and small children) by helping to provide mosquito netting to people in the world's most poverty-afflicted areas. But the vast majority of us will do nothing.

There are, of course, countless reasons for acting on the invitation to help made by such organizations as the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and Odyssey Networks and MosquitoNetting.

What is, perhaps, most challenging in cases like this one are the reasons moral people use for not acting. People of virtually all ethnic, religious, cultural, economic, social stripes believe in such creed imperatives as, "We all belong to the family of nations and peoples." So many of us readily accept that we are "our brothers' and sisters' keepers." All those motives would seem to provide reason enough to act on this transparently moral challenge.

But the vast majority of us don't act.

Can we continue to simply feel bad and move along? Don't we have to face that thing inside of us (most of us anyway) that keeps us from contributing to such causes? Most often, we simply forget. But, come on, don't we have to face the fact that ignoring and forgetting are actually kinds of choices. Disease stalks the earth inflicting misery without discriminating. Perhaps we could think of such choices in this way: many of us ponder deeply over the troubling question: "How could a loving God allow such horrible things to happen"?

Perhaps, a clue to our facing such questions as world disease might be another, better and more practical question: How can we allow such things to happen? We need to think about that. Then we need to do something!