Wrong Focus

The article “No to Movember” published in Vol. 32 Issue 11 of The Link—despite having a great headline—commits a big fallacy by stating the idea that suffering can be measured and compared.

While it is obvious that starving to death is a terrible thing, I am opposed to give it a rank on a suffering scale and lining it up against suffering from prostate cancer, to see which is truly worthy of the term suffering.

This is what the article does, despite that suffering is always a subjective experience that cannot and most importantly, should not be measured to make its existence a worthwhile one. Following through with this fallacy would lead to a point where one would have to justify the offered help, despite that helping to overcome suffering is always justified within itself.

Now my point is not to make a relativistic statement about suffering, but to show what the article
actually should have focused on.

If charity is indeed a zero sum game, due to the fact that a person can only give so much to charity, the real question to ask is not “is prostate cancer a worthy cause?” but, “Why is Movember so successful in promoting its cause?”

And I do think here lays the real crux of the dissatisfaction of the author: “Why is it that Movember gets people organized, whereas providing people with clean drinking water is not?”

Probably unknown to the author the answer to his question is in his own article: “People give a little money to one charity […] they feel good about their good deed– good enough that they don’t have to feel guilty about donating anywhere else.” Guilt is not just a bad motivator for charity it has the contrary effect of alienating one from the cause (remember the “Nah’msayin?” from Nov.1).

So the answer to the question “Why is Movember so successful?” is simply that it does not alienate people from the cause by pushing towards guilt, but rather fueling the joy people can have while helping.

This should have been the real focus of the article: “How can we make charity an event where people joyfully embrace the cause and help overcoming suffering?”

To answer this question, Movember is and should be an excellent example to orientate on.

—Jonas Streicher
Exchange Student