Committed to Social Justice

Pritam Singh's Philosophy

SOCIAL JUSTICE

           

The philosopher Schopenhauer told a story that I believe captures the essence of altruism. He asked us to imagine walking down a city street and watching a child crossing a road only to realize that they are about to be hit by a bus. He explained that when we see this child in danger we act without hesitation and run in front of the bus and push the child out of the way, without considering if we are sacrificing ourselves for them.

Schopenhauer explained that we do this because in the instant when we see this child in danger, we recognize that there is no separation between us and the child. This is similar to the Buddhist insight of inter-being. This is the idea that it is an illusion that we are a separate self. “Nothing can exist by itself alone. It has to depend on every other thing. The flower cannot exist by itself alone; it has to inter-be with soil, rain and insects.” Humans are like this, we inter-be with the farmer who grew our food, the teacher who nourished us with learning, and our ancestors.

"I have always believed that it was important to do our part to relieve others suffering whenever we can. In accordance with this conviction, I organized for Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and marched in Washington against the Vietnam War in 1971, where I was arrested and spent several days in prison. In the 1980’s, I worked with an organization that brought members of the Congress to show them what was happening in countries in Central America - Hondorus, Panama, Ecuador - where the United States supported governments that sponsored Para-Military groups that were killing civilians. In 1988, I was part of a Red Cross delegation that traveled to Cuba to inspect and report on the treatment of prisoners. However, my values also led me to strongly support two organizations whose missions were to protect endangered animals. In 1989, I began supporting Sea Shepard and its founder Paul Watson, who have been perhaps the most vigorous protectors of the world’s marine life over the past 25 years. It was at this time that I became close friends and a supporter of Marine Biologist Roger Payne whose lifelong work to study and protect whales led him to discover and record the songs of Humpback whales in the 1970’s." - Pritam