This essay has a total of 3257 words and 13 pages.
Across the globe in impoverished third world countries an estimated 50,000 children die of starvation every day (Quine 36). We have all seen the images of these children--bloated bellies, fly covered, bulging eyes--in television pleas by various charitable organizations. While these images sicken us, we idly sit by (often flipping the channel to avoid them), refusing to help these less fortunate kids. The problem is made worse by the ever-increasing population. Even the wealthy countries like our own now have a starvation problem (Quine 29). Admittedly, the problem here is less severe, but it still exists. With our current level of technology, the resources at our disposal, and a commitment to help those less fortunate, we can and must end starvation around the world before it gets worse.
The main problem facing efforts to wipe-out starvation in third world countries is that people feel no connection to those children. The commercials appealing to our conscience and sympathies are ineffective because, even though the images are awful, the viewer feels removed from the people in the commercials. There is no connection because the commercial could be nothing more than a fictional image in a movie. We have all heard someone say, or possibly have said ourselves, "We should help our own people first." Intuitively, there is something to this thought. It doesn't make sense to us to pass over the starving in our own country to help children thousands of miles away. This, however, does not free us from our moral obligation to help those who are far away. What proponents of this view are pointing out is that we do have a problem in this country. That simply means we are morally obligated to do something about the starving people here also, not that we are not equally obligated to help people in other countries as well. As philosopher Bertrand Russell points out, "Physical proximity is not relevant to moral obligation" (Russell 153). Distance and inconvenience do not relieve us of our moral duty.
On the contrary, we may be--at least in the case of starvation of distant children--more obligated to help them. In the United States there are many programs, shelters, charities, and individuals to help our less fortunate. A recent government study has shown that only 60% of the charitable donations of food, clothing, and money are used; the rest is lost, squandered, or in limbo. This same study estimates that the remaining 40% would provide enough resources to feed, clothe, and house every underprivileged and starving child in the country (U.S. Dept. of Welfare 44). With this being the case and with only an estimated 14% of the population making regular donations (Quine 10), the rest of us could easily help those people, especially children, starving in underdeveloped countries. The people at home are (or at least can be) taken care of, contrary to popular opinion, so if we ignore the distance between us and those poor kids in, for example, Saint Thomas, then we are obligated to help them. Distance is not morally relevant, and we have the resources to help. Therefore, we can and must help.
Another objection raised against helping the poor, starving kids in other countries is the financial stability of the American family. Many families live from paycheck to paycheck, barely paying their bills and putting food on the table. Yes, this is a problem; however, it is not an insurmountable one. The Census Bureau reports that the majority of families do struggle with their finances (U.S. Census Bureau 69) and attempting to feed children in far away lands would provide these families with an undue hardship. However, there is an easy solution which can be found in other Census Bureau data.
Two specific statistics are relevant to this issue. First, the U.S. population is increasing by an estimated 2,135,247 people each year (U.S. Census Bureau 32). Second, approximately 54,000 people die in the U.S. each day, with that number expected to increase as the Baby Boomer generation rushes to meet the Grim Reaper (U.S. Census Bureau 21). Why are these two statistics important to the issue of third world starvation? Because they provide a further problem and a possible solution.
The problem is overpopulation. The rate at which the U.S. population is growing will quickly consume all available resources. It is estimated the by the year 2024, our country's population will have increased to the point that the country's farmers will be unable to grow enough food (Frege 219). This, of course, will lead to increases in starvation in the U. S. When we look beyond the nation's boundaries, the problem becomes even more prevalent. If left unchecked, world population will triple by 2025 (Frege 220). The current food production rate around the world can barely support everyone as it is. With the alarming rate we are losing farmland, in 25 years we will never have enough food supplies to handle feeding half the population. So, the problem of overpopulation and starvation is a global one; increased population means increased starvation unless something is done.
The second statistic, the projected increase in death rates, provides us with a viable solution. With the rise in population there will be a correlating rise in deaths. Increased deaths also pose a potential problem. If we need all available land for housing and farming, then what are we to do with the bodies of the dead? Cemeteries have become a useless waste of prime, much needed, real estate. Over the next decade attitudes will have to change drastically regarding the disposal of remains. While cremation seems a plausible option, if only alleviates one part of the problem by freeing up small (3' x 8') parcels of land. We are still left with overpopulation and starvation.
The solution should, by now, seem obvious. We must stop wasting precious resources and use them to help support our fellow human beings. Land currently used for cemeteries should be cleared for use as farmland, and all future dead should be processed into food for the starving. While initially repulsive, careful reasoning will prove this to be the best solution.
First, as previously stated statistics show, the current U. S. death rate is roughly 54,000 people a day, and the children dying from starvation every day number approximately 50,000. The numbers are almost identical. This could easily provide 54,000 meals for 50,000 starving children. However, most children would be unable to eat a whole person, so actually we could provide two or more meals with each dead body for each child on the edge of death. Of course, the numbers are not exact. Some bodies would be unusable because of disease, but the majority would be edible.
In addition, not everyone would donate their body or the body of a loved one. This would make the number of meals provided to the poor based on the daily number of dead much closer to the number of meals actually needed. If only half of the dead were used (or usable), then assuming that one body would feed two people we would have roughly enough meals for all the children who die of starvation each day. But even if we can't provide enough to feed all the starving children, we will be providing enough to feed most of them. That alone makes the effort worthwhile.
Second, the consumption of human flesh would be healthier than the meager diets of gruel most charities ship to starving children. Most humans contain all the essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes necessary to sustain healthy functioning (Wittgenstein 348). Studies have shown that human flesh is nutritionally equivalent to vitamin-enhanced chicken (Foucault 161). Human flesh is high in protein and low in cholesterol and fatty acids. A medical examination of the Peruvian soccer team immortalized in the movie Alive after they were rescued, showed that besides the lack of sufficient levels of vitamin C provided by fruits, the surviving soccer players were surprisingly healthy. None of the survivors were malnourished beyond a touch of scurvy (Rogers C34). A comparison of the nutritional value of the current meals provided to starving children, if they receive any, and a meal of human flesh with some fruit will show that this is a better option.
If we have an obligation to help starving children, then we have the obligation to provide them with the best possible source of food. As mentioned above, the current diets being pawned off on these poor children are inadequate. The gruel these kids are forced to consume, like they are part of some Dickensonian nightmare, barely keeps them alive; it simply prolongs the inevitable. By providing them with the high protein diet of human remains, their nutritional needs would be better met, ensuring that they have the strength to help alleviate the problems of their society. Increased strength and desire to live will increase the affluence of their society, providing a foundation upon which to build the institutions and mechanisms to ensure future generations do not suffer the same atrocities.
While feeding the underprivileged our dead seems drastic, it is a necessary, and quite possibly temporary, step to end world hunger. As the current generation benefits from the nutrition of the diet, they will better their social and economic positions. This will relieve the problem, and the need for eating flesh will end. We must only be ready to return to this course if future disasters call for the same level of intervention. Hopefully, the reliance on human flesh will be a short period, possibly a decade; it should last just long enough to allow these people to get back on their
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