Peter Singer's article 'Famine, Affluence and Morality' is an interesting read even though it is difficult to agree totally with his point of view. His view "If we can prevent something bad without sacrificing anything of comparable significance, we ought to do it." does not sound very practical. In this article he has emphasized on two issues. One issue is an analogy provided by him. In this analogy he mentions that if a child is drowning in a pond then we should save him if there is no fear of risking our lives in that act. If we really face such a situation then it would without doubt be a moral obligation to save the child. He says that there would only be fear of dirtying one's clothes, which is insignificant when compared to someone's life. This is a very moral action to do and we should ignore trivial factors while extending our help to the child in need. In fact the thought of dirtying our clothes would not come in our minds in normal circumstances, the instant reaction would be to save that child especially when there is no one else to save him.Peter Singer has given this analogy to make us understand the need of helping others. In the article in discussion his main aim is to influence the readers to help during crisis situations like famine. This article was written in the year 1971 when people were dying in East Bengal due to famine. Through this article his main aim was to convince the affluent western population to indulge in charity. He meant that if we are affluent, and while spending an amount of our money is not going to put strains in our pockets then we should make donations wholeheartedly. This is not a practical action to propagate. It's good to involve oneself in charity but this does not mean that one should be guilty of one's affluence and lend helping hand to all the social causes even when we are not a part of the society in which help is needed.
When the immediate society in which we live faces a crisis situation then our emotional attachment to it compels us to go out of the way to lend a helping hand. But when a distant society is in need of help then it is an inherent human nature to not feel as connected and obliged to help when compared to the crisis situation of one's immediate society. Since we are not able to see or feel the pain, it is difficult to react as much as those who are suffering. This cannot be perceived as an immoral activity as stated by Singer. Reacting naturally should not be a reason of guilt from any aspect. Singer finds no difference between the distances, which practically sounds very illogical.
The analogy that he has given to support his point does not look well connected to his main area of concern. In his analogy he has mentioned about a drowning child for whom there is only one person to save. While in the premise that he has adopted, to support the charity for famine he is asking to help when there are innumerable people to extend help. There is a vast difference in the nature of these circumstances. Hence one cannot act in both these circumstances with same urgency.
All human beings are accustomed of following a moral scheme, which is difficult to combat. What is naturally present in us cannot be changed easily. A handful of people thinking on the lines of Singer can still make an effort and adapt to a different moral scheme more effortlessly than others but the entire humankind will not be able to bring a difference in their mindset so easily no matter how affluent they are. Hence it is very difficult to change the moral framework of human beings.
There is a vast difference between the attitude of duty and the attitude of charity. To follow the norms set by one's society becomes imperative for everyone. Especially when not following such norms is going to result in any kind of punishment, one sometimes even acts against ones wishes or natural instincts. But in situations where there is going to be no reprimanding for acting in a particular way, people tend to prevent themselves from doing what 'should be