I personally believe that what makes us human is that we give a shit. Unlike much of the animal kingdom, humans nurture and care for the sick, the old and the lame. We take care of each other and, just as importantly, when someone does give a shit and acts accordingly, they inspire us to make the world a little better.
Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst chained herself to the railings of government buildings and was jailed for demanding the right for women to vote. She gave a shit and made the world a more egalitarian place.
On June 5, 1989, the 19-year-old student Wang Weilin stood in front of a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square, bringing them to a halt. Wang focused worldwide attention on the Chinese military’s violent crackdown on protesters, and demonstrated that one person who gives a shit can change the world.
People such as Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela exemplify speaking out against injustice and inequality. They represent the best that we can be as a species.
What happens when we don’t give a shit? When we don’t recognise and respect the needs and opinions of others, and don’t speak up against injustice and prejudice, things can go very, very wrong, whether it be kids subjected to family violence and abuse, or Hitler’s “Final Solution”. When people don’t speak up or act against injustice, they abrogate their responsibilities as humans and the consequences are often fatal.
We live in an unequal world. For example, 90 percent of global health care is spent on 10 percent of the world’s population, who live in developed countries. That’s us. We have developed a plethora of medical products and procedures to take care of all our needs and whims, from essential medicines to Viagra, anti-ageing products and face-lifts.
Meanwhile, those in the developing world bear the greatest burden of disease and lack access to the most basic clinical care. Malnutrition is a major problem in developing countries, and the incidence of premature babies is very high, due to poor nutrition and underlying diarrheal diseases. Many premature babies weigh less than one kilogram, and can fit neatly into the palm of your hand. However, without timely clinical intervention, most of these babies will die before they have had a start at life.
This is where a dream of mine comes in. The team at Medicine Mondiale, a development agency that I founded, has developed a low-cost infant incubator that is designed to work in the challenging and hostile environments found in developing countries.
The Mondiale Lifepod Incubator costs just $2,000 and in its guaranteed lifespan will save the lives of at least 500 babies. Medicine Mondiale has an audacious dream to get the lifesaving Lifepod into thousands of hospitals around the world.
It’s a big task, but those that are crazy enough to believe that they can change the world are the ones that do. We give a shit, we find other people that do, and together we make a difference and challenge others to dream big.
You can support the work of Medicine Mondiale with regular donations through One Percent Collective at www.onepercentcollective.org
Portrait Photography by Pat Shepherd.