If you had to choose between saving two people you didn’t know or one of your close relatives from drowning, what would you do? What if there were ten strangers who needed to be rescued? Or one thousand? Would you help a starving child standing right in front of you? How about three million living on the other side of the world? Where do you draw the line? These are some of the questions posed by journalist Larissa MacFarquhar in her 2015 book ‘Strangers Drowning: Voyages to the Brink of Moral Extremity’ in which she profiles the true stories of extreme “do-gooders” or those who devote their lives to help strangers rather than people they are close to through a sense of duty. These include a couple who adopt 20 children, a founder of a leper colony, a radical vegan activist, a nurse who set up a women’s health clinic in a warzone and others who live on the bare minimum so that they can donate the vast majority of their salary to charity. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Philosophy
The downside of starting my postgraduate degree next week is that I will have a lot less time to read fiction and also a lot less time for blogging than I’ve had over the summer. The upside is that I now have access to different libraries and a 10% student discount at my favourite bookshop in the world, Foyles, so when I do have time to read for pleasure, I will be pretty spoilt for choice.
Last week, I visited the main university library for the first time and got hopelessly lost. Due to the absence of signs and being completely unfamiliar with the Library of Congress classification system, it took me nearly an hour to even find the sections relevant to my course. During my search, I happened to stumble across the Czech literature section and picked up a copy of ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ by Milan Kundera as it was on my TBR list and isn’t available at my local library. I figured that even if I never found the books I had actually gone to look for, it wouldn’t have been a totally wasted trip. Continue reading