Springing off of your initial post, and not reading any of the responses I will use your example of starvation to try to explain mine.
When I think of people who are in desperate need, I notice my code tends to go to the younger. I pictured what it would be to have to really choose between two people if all I had was one bite of food ( essentially fantasizing that I didnt have enough to share..) and my mind created the image of a grown man, white (Not that it matters , just explaining what I pictured to be able to answer) and a young child of about 6 or so. My initial gut reaction was to feed and save the child.
I tried to picture two starving adults and again.. I notice that I lean to the younger of the two. Not that when I pictured them I GAVE them an age, thats just what popped into my head.
But, when I think about and look at the things I have done to help people in my life and I look at the times I have had to REALLY respond I act to the older crowd. I have not been in a situation where a child was starving at my feet.
When I lived in the apartments just before moving here, the neighborhood was poor. The children dressed in torn clothes, everyone living on barely enough. And sometimes when I would let jillian out to play the kids would flock to her snack and her food like crazy. I would , a lot of times , just buy extra and hand it out freely. Not starving kids, but obviously they didnt get enough. No real gut reaction there.. it was just WHAT you would do when you knew that was going on. That is the only time I have had to deal with some what hungry children. Not much to go on I know, but still..
When it came to real action in my life, and what I choose to do and how, even my initial life career was to and for the older population.
I worked with alzheimers/dementia patients for years. I tried working trauma, basic er, even pediatrics. Nothing.. i mean NOTHING.. struck me and kept me like working with the dementia patients did.
My very feeling then was that I was sort of carrying an embarrassment for them to a certain extent. They had no idea anymore that they were not even behaving as humans would. They had no idea they could not be understood. No care to clothes or being covered and no memory to even feed themselves.
I fired TONS of nurses for not being respectful , not giving dignity and not giving a **** frankly. There was no question in my mind and no room to move when it came to how they should be treated.
I think if I were to label my moral code, it isnt to race, background, or even situation , like an accident for example. I may not always run to the most bloddy of victims.
I think I run to the most helpless.