Imagine that your sister is starving to death. You have plenty of food for yourself. You could spare enough food to keep her alive until you find a long-term solution. What would you do?

You probably answered something along the lines of ‘Help her, of course!’ You might even be shocked or appalled by anyone who would give the matter a second thought before acting. It’s not only what you would do, but it’s what anyone should do. If that’s right, then I wonder how you might respond to a question, that I have long wondered about, and that a recent New York Times article on the drought in Kenya reminded me of:

How important is it, really, that she’s your sister?              

Imagine the same scenario as above, except that the woman in need is someone living on the other side of the globe who you have never met. Would helping her then become something that would be nice of you to do, as an act of charity, but not something that you should do? If so, why is this?      

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