Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

I was out of town for a couple of days, and apparently while
I was away, Iran went (more) insane, and North Korea decided Hawaii might make a nice Fourth of
July nuclear missile target

Greeeaat.

Maybe I should have stayed away another week or so, or not tuned
back in to current events once I got home. But I just can’t do that.

Call me a news junkie, but when big events take place on the
world stage, I’m glued to the TV. During the Tiananmen Sq protests, I clutched my couch cushion to my chest, riveted by the
images on my screen. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I wept for days, aghast at the suffering of my countrymen.
And during 9/11… well, I was in NYC for that, so I didn’t need my TV to tell me
vast and terrible events were afoot.

But despite the great empathy I have felt during these and
other tragedies, like the deadly 2004 tsunami, the actions I have taken have been limited to donating
small sums of money (just what I could afford) or other goods to relief efforts
like the Red Cross or Mercy Corps.

I’m wondering if I have an ethical obligation to do more.

If I say I care, if I get up in arms about the suffering of
others, if the repressive politics of a far-away regime fire me up, do I have a
moral responsibility to take an action to stand behind my beliefs? If I don’t,
am I a) an ass, and/or b) a hypocrite?

And if action is warranted, what sort? How far does my
obligation towards my fellow man (and woman) go? Do I join Greenpeace, PETA, the IRA, the Army, the priesthood, Doctors Without Borders, the Peace Corps or the NRA? If I believe Iranian women deserve a greater voice in
their government
 but don’t want to get shot joining a protest, what should I
do?

I guess what I’m asking is, can I let myself off the hook
for being afraid to commit to a cause, and if not, how can I (safely, and a
step at a time) get involved? 

What do *you* do when you’re passionate about
world events?
(And don’t say create a Facebook group…)

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