The aim of this post is to understand why or why not people in this community are taking steps to call for a ceasefire (or other avenues to end the killing of civilians) in Gaza. This post is not aimed at people’s donating behaviour, but at political action.
The aim is not to understand how EA as a whole may align with this (there is another post about how the ITN framework may apply here), as the questions I pose are also about actions that may not be the most effective. Instead, the aim is to understand how individuals within the EA community are thinking about this.
The aim is not to change anyone’s mind; I want to understand the perspectives of people in this community.
I will read your comments with an open mind. I ask you to read the post, and reflect on the questions I pose, with an open mind too. I would love to have a respectful and open conversation about this.
You are, of course, free to upvote/downvote/like/dislike this post as you see fit. I would just ask that if you do so, could you please also comment with your rationale for why? This would help me understand others’ thought processes.
Questions for Reflection
Does everything that we do, in terms of helping others, have to be the most effective? Is there room for acting with compassion/empathy? In addition to the steps we already take to do the most amount of good, can we engage in further actions to help others that may not be as effective?
Note. Before you read on about what I think, I would urge you to think through these questions and perhaps even write some thoughts down. Not only in relation to the situation in Gaza, but how they might apply to your lives in general.
For me, not everything in my life needs to be aligned with EA principles. I spend money on coffees because it makes me happy. I spend money on dinners out because I like to spend time with friends over good food. Thinking about whether every course of action is the best use of my time or money would be overly exhausting, leaving little room for me to be spontaneous (which I know is a privilege in itself).
In relation to the situation in Gaza, I believe that my involvement in calling for a ceasefire adds to the total amount of good I am trying to do. As an example of an additional behaviour, I have taken 5-10 minutes to call or email my MP/Foreign Minister a few times over the past ~6 weeks, to demand that they call for a ceasefire. I don’t see the counterfactual as spending those 10 minutes on something even more effective, but rather spending time that I would otherwise not be using on anything productive to help others.
At the very least, I do not believe this makes me less effective than I usually am. I am continuing to donate to the effective charities I donate to as usual, so in that sense I am no less effective than I have been. My work is also aimed at having the most impact I can in my field, so again, in that sense I am no less effective.
I also want to say that it is absolutely heartbreaking, terrifying, and unacceptable that antisemitism and Islamophobia are on the rise. As mentioned, I strongly believe that each life has equal value. I also believe that people are not automatically defined by the decisions of their governments.
This is where I’m coming from. I look forward to hearing your thoughts/perspectives!