Paul Farmer speaks from a passion that can only come from a changed heart. It is an uncommon phenomenon that one who has been witness to such suffering, poverty, and the evils of the world emerges un-jaded and unwavering in his mission. Standing amidst hopelessness he seeks hope, continually marching onward and fighting against an apathetic nation. His words penetrate as one who has lived and experienced as the poor do, not that he understands completely, but he has an empathetic heart and not of a sympathetic pride.
Why is someone who has the ability and knowledge to anything in this world choose to enter into relationships with those who are often viewed as the dregs of society? I would like to think it comes from both a profound understanding of who man is, and the simplest of revelations: because it is right.
This is a dangerous statement, because if there is a right way then it follows by laws of reason and logic there must also be a wrong. It is easy to define the right even if it is not easily accomplished. The wrong is not so, not because the answer is elusive, but because the inevitable reality frightens us. We work against it lest our conscience be tainted or guilt over take us and are then forced to adopt the logical eventuality that it is apathy and selfishness that rules over us, myself included.
If the opposite of work is to rest, the opposite of to go is to stay, and the opposite of selfishness is selflessness, then it follows that if the correct course is action the incorrect course is inaction. If it is right to help the poor then it flows that it is wrong to ignore them. The biggest enemy in the fight against poverty, justice, and health is not those force working against us, but the apathy of those who can rectify these injustices that exist.
We must be careful because of the evil of a sympathetic arrogance lurks in shadows. Instead we must be driven by empathy (see link for more on this subject).
Can we, those in a position to help, save the world? I do not believe we can. However, it does not change what is right:
"but what does the Lord require of us, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8