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Strangers Drowning - Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help-logo

Strangers Drowning - Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help

Larissa MacFarquhar

What does it mean to devote yourself wholly to helping others? In Strangers Drowning, Larissa MacFarquhar seeks out people living lives of extreme ethical commitment and tells their deeply intimate stories; their stubborn integrity and their compromises; their bravery and their recklessness; their joys and defeats and wrenching dilemmas. A couple adopts two children in distress. But then they think: If they can change two lives, why not four? Or ten? They adopt twenty. But how do they weigh the needs of unknown children in distress against the needs of the children they already have? Another couple founds a leprosy colony in the wilderness in India, living in huts with no walls, knowing that their two small children may contract leprosy or be eaten by panthers. The children survive. But what if they hadn't? How would their parents' risk have been judged? A woman believes that if she spends money on herself, rather than donate it to buy life-saving medicine, then she's responsible for the deaths that result. She lives on a fraction of her income, but wonders: when is compromise self-indulgence and when is it essential? We honor such generosity and high ideals; but when we call people do-gooders there is skepticism in it, even hostility. Why do moral people make us uneasy? Between her stories, MacFarquhar threads a lively history of the literature, philosophy, social science, and self-help that have contributed to a deep suspicion of do-gooders in Western culture. Through its sympathetic and beautifully vivid storytelling, Strangers Drowning confronts us with fundamental questions about what it means to be human. In a world of strangers drowning in need, how much should we help, and how much can we help? Is it right to care for strangers even at the expense of those we are closest to? Moving and provocative, Strangers Drowning challenges us to think about what we value most, and why. From the Hardcover edition.

What does it mean to devote yourself wholly to helping others? In Strangers Drowning, Larissa MacFarquhar seeks out people living lives of extreme ethical commitment and tells their deeply intimate stories; their stubborn integrity and their compromises; their bravery and their recklessness; their joys and defeats and wrenching dilemmas. A couple adopts two children in distress. But then they think: If they can change two lives, why not four? Or ten? They adopt twenty. But how do they weigh the needs of unknown children in distress against the needs of the children they already have? Another couple founds a leprosy colony in the wilderness in India, living in huts with no walls, knowing that their two small children may contract leprosy or be eaten by panthers. The children survive. But what if they hadn't? How would their parents' risk have been judged? A woman believes that if she spends money on herself, rather than donate it to buy life-saving medicine, then she's responsible for the deaths that result. She lives on a fraction of her income, but wonders: when is compromise self-indulgence and when is it essential? We honor such generosity and high ideals; but when we call people do-gooders there is skepticism in it, even hostility. Why do moral people make us uneasy? Between her stories, MacFarquhar threads a lively history of the literature, philosophy, social science, and self-help that have contributed to a deep suspicion of do-gooders in Western culture. Through its sympathetic and beautifully vivid storytelling, Strangers Drowning confronts us with fundamental questions about what it means to be human. In a world of strangers drowning in need, how much should we help, and how much can we help? Is it right to care for strangers even at the expense of those we are closest to? Moving and provocative, Strangers Drowning challenges us to think about what we value most, and why. From the Hardcover edition.
More Information

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What does it mean to devote yourself wholly to helping others? In Strangers Drowning, Larissa MacFarquhar seeks out people living lives of extreme ethical commitment and tells their deeply intimate stories; their stubborn integrity and their compromises; their bravery and their recklessness; their joys and defeats and wrenching dilemmas. A couple adopts two children in distress. But then they think: If they can change two lives, why not four? Or ten? They adopt twenty. But how do they weigh the needs of unknown children in distress against the needs of the children they already have? Another couple founds a leprosy colony in the wilderness in India, living in huts with no walls, knowing that their two small children may contract leprosy or be eaten by panthers. The children survive. But what if they hadn't? How would their parents' risk have been judged? A woman believes that if she spends money on herself, rather than donate it to buy life-saving medicine, then she's responsible for the deaths that result. She lives on a fraction of her income, but wonders: when is compromise self-indulgence and when is it essential? We honor such generosity and high ideals; but when we call people do-gooders there is skepticism in it, even hostility. Why do moral people make us uneasy? Between her stories, MacFarquhar threads a lively history of the literature, philosophy, social science, and self-help that have contributed to a deep suspicion of do-gooders in Western culture. Through its sympathetic and beautifully vivid storytelling, Strangers Drowning confronts us with fundamental questions about what it means to be human. In a world of strangers drowning in need, how much should we help, and how much can we help? Is it right to care for strangers even at the expense of those we are closest to? Moving and provocative, Strangers Drowning challenges us to think about what we value most, and why. From the Hardcover edition.

Language:

English

Length:

9h 58m


Chapters

Chapter 1
Chapter 1

00:17


Chapter 2
Chapter 2

00:06


Chapter 3
Chapter 3

00:14


Chapter 4
Chapter 4

03:12


Chapter 5
Chapter 5

06:35


Chapter 6
Chapter 6

04:10


Chapter 7
Chapter 7

08:00


Chapter 8
Chapter 8

03:27


Chapter 9
Chapter 9

07:06


Chapter 10
Chapter 10

08:41


Chapter 11
Chapter 11

06:54


Chapter 12
Chapter 12

08:43


Chapter 13
Chapter 13

08:39


Chapter 14
Chapter 14

07:40


Chapter 15
Chapter 15

09:11


Chapter 16
Chapter 16

04:16


Chapter 17
Chapter 17

05:34


Chapter 18
Chapter 18

04:33


Chapter 19
Chapter 19

08:40


Chapter 20
Chapter 20

08:28


Chapter 21
Chapter 21

05:55


Chapter 22
Chapter 22

03:26


Chapter 23
Chapter 23

08:30


Chapter 24
Chapter 24

05:34


Chapter 25
Chapter 25

05:53


Chapter 26
Chapter 26

06:44


Chapter 27
Chapter 27

08:39


Chapter 28
Chapter 28

05:45


Chapter 29
Chapter 29

08:36


Chapter 30
Chapter 30

04:28


Chapter 31
Chapter 31

08:37


Chapter 32
Chapter 32

04:16


Chapter 33
Chapter 33

03:26


Chapter 34
Chapter 34

05:33


Chapter 35
Chapter 35

04:37


Chapter 36
Chapter 36

07:46


Chapter 37
Chapter 37

06:19


Chapter 38
Chapter 38

07:35


Chapter 39
Chapter 39

05:52


Chapter 40
Chapter 40

04:39


Chapter 41
Chapter 41

08:43


Chapter 42
Chapter 42

06:08


Chapter 43
Chapter 43

08:26


Chapter 44
Chapter 44

05:49


Chapter 45
Chapter 45

04:42


Chapter 46
Chapter 46

06:52


Chapter 47
Chapter 47

06:09


Chapter 48
Chapter 48

08:20


Chapter 49
Chapter 49

08:01


Chapter 50
Chapter 50

04:23


Chapter 51
Chapter 51

04:19


Chapter 52
Chapter 52

08:48


Chapter 53
Chapter 53

07:56


Chapter 54
Chapter 54

07:11


Chapter 55
Chapter 55

07:53


Chapter 56
Chapter 56

04:45


Chapter 57
Chapter 57

08:46


Chapter 58
Chapter 58

06:00


Chapter 59
Chapter 59

08:07


Chapter 60
Chapter 60

08:19


Chapter 61
Chapter 61

06:55


Chapter 62
Chapter 62

03:15


Chapter 63
Chapter 63

07:29


Chapter 64
Chapter 64

05:21


Chapter 65
Chapter 65

06:11


Chapter 66
Chapter 66

05:08


Chapter 67
Chapter 67

06:07


Chapter 68
Chapter 68

08:35


Chapter 69
Chapter 69

08:43


Chapter 70
Chapter 70

08:13


Chapter 71
Chapter 71

02:48


Chapter 72
Chapter 72

03:07


Chapter 73
Chapter 73

08:37


Chapter 74
Chapter 74

08:42


Chapter 75
Chapter 75

07:46


Chapter 76
Chapter 76

08:06


Chapter 77
Chapter 77

06:11


Chapter 78
Chapter 78

08:56


Chapter 79
Chapter 79

08:33


Chapter 80
Chapter 80

08:30


Chapter 81
Chapter 81

08:07


Chapter 82
Chapter 82

08:25


Chapter 83
Chapter 83

08:07


Chapter 84
Chapter 84

06:49


Chapter 85
Chapter 85

06:21


Chapter 86
Chapter 86

04:56


Chapter 87
Chapter 87

03:58


Chapter 88
Chapter 88

08:16


Chapter 89
Chapter 89

05:16


Chapter 90
Chapter 90

04:19


Chapter 91
Chapter 91

05:46


Chapter 92
Chapter 92

07:37


Chapter 93
Chapter 93

06:46


Chapter 94
Chapter 94

00:33