Today’s world is a world that has been rapidly evolving from a world full of isolationist countries, to a continuously integrated and globalized community. Technological advancements have facilitated this fundamental change. Advancements range from the technological to the medical. For most, the world has become a safer and healthier place to live. However, even with all of the progress we have seen, there are still individuals who do not access to some or all of these advancements. The differences in access can be attributed to the decisions made by a fortunate few and how they would receive maximum return. There is a dissonance between self-interest and altruistic motivations, and it is one of the most concerning and greatest moral challenges today’s world faces. Whether talking about countries, corporations, or individuals there are too few entities in the world interested in the welfare of others.
We do not live in a world where countries are isolated and contained, but rather, we live in an interconnected world, where modern day advancements in communication and transportation has allowed quick movement and dissemination of information to one another. With the continued integration of countries and individuals, a change in how we view and act in as a world citizen is also necessary. The continued integration of countries and people necessitates a change in how we approach decision making. Before globalization, decisions could be more self-interested because they were more easily contained. Most decisions would not cross borders and affect people or nations outside the region. However, it is clear that the effects of our decisions are no longer isolated to just one country. Rather, the impact from decisions we make, no matter now insignificant they seem to be, cascade and affect more people in more places than ever before.
The majority of decisions, consequential or not, are greatly influenced by our personal self-interest in the result. Most entities make decisions based on asking “what do I get in the deal?,” and not “who does this really impact?” This type of decision making results in a paradigm where external consequences hardly factors into the an individual’s evaluation. Decisions made in such a manner can also lead to unintended effects for others in the world, especially those with little economic and political power. It is under this type of self-intersted approach, serious world problems, like extreme poverty and depletion of natural resources, continue to seriously hinder the world’s ability to continue the “move forward.” In other words, currently there is too much focus on the self and too little focus on the other.
As an example, consider corporations and their decisions; their profit margins greatly influence most decisions. It is not a secret that major decisions of multi-national corporations are weighed against their profit margin. For example, pharmaceutical companies take into account all of their research and development costs before making major decisions, even decisions that will impact the lives of people living in extreme poverty. If the company determines distributing medication in underdeveloped or undeveloped countries at prices affordable to those living in extreme poverty conditions would too negatively impact their “bottom line,” then the company may decide to distribute the medication at a price that would effectively “price out” those living in extreme poverty conditions. This type of reasoning does not just occur in boardrooms, but it also happens on a very small scale. Every day, the homeless in every major city are ignored by the general public, a prime example of everyone choosing self over other.
It is true that there are organizations, individuals, and governmental agencies focused on helping those with the greatest humanitarian need, the number of entities in existence is disproportionate to the actual need in the world. As the world continues to evolve and continue to integrate and globalize, the leading views in the world will also need to evolve. There needs to be a priority shift, especially the nations and the individuals who fall in the top 20 percent in global wealth distribution. The notion that more needs to be done and far more resources need to be spent to ensure that everyone in the world is afforded similar rights may sound radical, but in a way, it is the natural next step to how the world has evolved into a global marketplace of ideas and goods.
As a global community, the world cannot continue to move forward in a progressive fashion and forget about the people who are effectively denied access to essential medications, and other basic necessities. The world has been changing rapidly, and now is the time to start to change our states of mind. Morality and ethics needs to factor in more heavily in our decisions, whether it concerns a bilateral trade agreement between two states, or concerns the purchase of a new electronic that uses conflict minerals in its components.