Can we care about genocide?
Nicholas Kristof has an interesting column in the Times about our inclination to care about individuals rather than groups. He uses a paper by Paul Slovic at the University of Oregon as his starting point. Slovic writes, “Most people are caring and will exert great effort to rescue individual victims whose needy plight comes to their attention. These same good people, however, often become numbly indifferent to the plight of individuals who are “one of many” in a much greater problem. Why does this occur?”
According to Kristof, Slovic “argues that we cannot depend on the innate morality even of good people. Instead, he believes, we need to develop legal or political mechanisms to force our hands to confront genocide.” Kristof, however, believes that we need a public outcry that can only be promted by media emphasis on a single, suffering, sympathy-inducing Darfurian—or a Darfur puppy.