Saturday, February 4, 2012

I Dare You To Do Something

 “There is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls.”– Kofi Annan

I teach college ethics, and my education and training focused primarily on the study of ethics. Today, my concerns continue to return to questions of ethics - How SHOULD we act? What SHOULD we do? Where do our DUTIES lie?

This is not simply some academic concern I leave in the classroom - I live it. Since running is an important part of my life, ethics inevitably enters into that part of my life as well. I've argued in earlier posts that runners should use their talents for something beyond themselves - to make the world a better place. Running need not be the self-centered, selfish pursuit many see it as. This is my attempt to walk the walk...

In almost all my ethics classes we cover a section called "Near and Distant People". The issues and principles we explore concern if and when and why we may or may not owe certain considerations to those close to us or those far away from us.  Most of my students, over 14 years of teaching, try to argue that we owe more to those close to us then those far away. Why? Because we see them? Because they are "one of us"? Most respond with a shrug and a "well just because we should help our neighbors first". Why?

It seems, that if there is any duty to help, the scope of that duty must focus on those in greatest need first. Whether someone is near or far makes no difference (ethically, though logistics do change). If you have two people in need, and you have the ability to help one (ability is important because in ethics "ought = can".  If you can't help, then there's no duty because you can't do any good) wouldn't you help the one in greatest need regardless of where that person might be?

There are many misconceptions and bogus 'facts' tossed about, used to form opinion in the United States concerning population and prosperity around the world. Ethicists debate the efficacy of 'helping' those around the world who are in need - those dying everyday, every minute, from easily preventible conditions and diseases. Some argue that the right sort of help will aid in lowering birth rates and improving opportunities in the long term. Others maintain that help will result in nothing more than more people, more mouths to feed, and more death and suffering in the future.

We tend to accept the views that: a) Are consistent with the way we now believe the world to be, b) appeal to our intuitive/common sense ideas of what probably works best, and c) don't require us to make sacrifices or change the way we want to live.

An example of these types of reasoning: Most Americans support the death penalty because they believe it is a greater deterrent then life in prison. Common sense would lead you to believe this. However, the data DOES NOT SUPPORT that view. According to the data the death penalty and life in prison are equal in their deterrent effect. But, we say "that just can't be. I just don't buy it." And we go on believing something that cannot be supported - and we don't really want to make the effort to change the status quo. You can support the death penalty for other reasons, but citing greater deterrence as a reason is a bad argument.

Likewise, we tend to believe that if we feed starving people, more people will survive, which will result in more hungry mouths, and the birth of more hungry mouths, leading in the end, to mutual destruction for all.

So what's the way out of this vicious circle? EDUCATION, and most importantly, EDUCATING GIRLS AND WOMEN.

The most recent demographic data clearly supports this claim. In countries dealing with poverty, famine, and over population, educating girls and women has made THE DIFFERENCE between breaking out of the cycle of poverty and falling back into it.

I am running the Boston Marathon 2012 and The New York City Marathon 2012 to raise money for Girls Education International. For more information on Girls Ed go to their website and watch the video below. You may contact me directly at or go to my fund raising page:

I Dare You To Do Something Good :) 


So, in an attempt to encouraging you to do the right thing, (nudge, nudge) I am launching the 2nd semi-annual Chronic Runner Contest. From NOW through noon (EDT) on APRIL 16th - Yes, that's Patriot's Day in Massachusetts:
1) Either pledged a contribution by emailing me (cqmacmahon@hotmail,com) for any amount - EVEN 1 DOLLAR! or made a charitable donation through my fund-raising page (, and;  2) is also a fellow "Peripatetic' of this blog:
You will be entered to win, the always coveted,  "I RUN - Get Chronic" t-shirt or one month free online coaching (including a detailed analysis of where you are now and how to get where you want to go). There will be two lucky winners!
Don't wait for someone else to do something...don't tell yourself it's okay if you don't do anything, because someone else will...don't tell yourself what you can do doesn't matter...EVERY DOLLAR matters. One Dollar...I DARE YOU.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree that education can break people out of poverty. My father, a 2nd generation immigrant stressed the value of education for his children. And because of that I guarantee I'm living a much different life that I would have been living. I just have to look at my cousins to see that different life that would have been mine without education.

    With that said - I have been volunteering as a Victim Advocate for 7+ years and have donate $ to the kidney foundation every year. That cause is near and dear to my heart. A very good friend of mine had several great years of life due to receiving a kidney donation. (He passed away a few months ago)

    Volunteering and helping by donating is a very personal decision and every bit - no matter how small - helps. I think it's great you are supporting the education of women with something you are passionate about. You set a good example. :)


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