Fewer than a third of British people believe in the humanitarian principle that we have a duty to help everyone in distress, regardless of circumstances, according to a new survey conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation.
The research revealed that, beneath the generosity that people show in giving to charity, there is also a judgment – which means that people give far less money to help innocent people caught up in war or conflict than to people who suffer as a result of “natural” disasters, such as earthquakes or floods.
More than a third of people (39%) believed governments of crisis-hit countries should deal with their problems on their own, rather than be helped through humanitarian aid. Just a quarter of us think we should ignore the political or cultural context and help where help is needed.
Altruism is in human nature, sure it is. But it’s a qualified altruism (as so much about humans is qualified).
We’re more generous to those where we can and do think “There but for the Grace of God go I” and less generous where we think there’s human agency in the fuck up and less generous again when we think that the agent of the fuck up is the one suffering it.
Perhaps, morally, it shouldn’t be so: but it seems that it is so for some majority of us.
And note, this is still all about humanitarian aid, this isn’t even touching on development aid.