It seems a silly question at first, especially for an American. If there is a problem, of course we're going to try and solve it. But look at what happens just a little ways downstream, once you embrace the idea that "we have to try and solve this." If our best idea doesn't work, we're going to go with our second-best idea. If that doesn't work, we are still figuring that we've got plenty of good ideas, we just haven't quite understood the problem and hit the right one. Eventually, we have tried many things that have not worked, and we are getting to some pretty strange solutions.
Now, that is the pure situation, and reality is going to be different. All of those previous solutions are going to do something, and some of them are going to do good things. That will sucker us into doing that thing twice as hard, then three times as hard, then Lord knows how many times harder. Yet somehow we don't get to actual solutions for these large things.
Concrete examples might help. I first came across the weakness of the idea in CS Lewis's "Why I Am Not A Pacifist," which he delivered to a pacifist group.
It may be asked whether, faint as the hope is of abolishing war by Pacifism, there is any other hope. But the question belongs to a mode of thought which I find quite alien to me. It consists in assuming that the great permanent miseries in human life might be curable if only we can find the right cure; and it then proceeds by elimination and concludes that whatever is left, however unlikely to prove a cure, must nevertheless do so. Hence the fanaticism of Marxists, Freudians, Eugenists, Spiritualists, Douglasites, Federal Unionists, Vegetarians, and all the rest. But I have received no assurance that anything we can do will eradicate suffering. I think the best results are obtained by people who work quietly away at limited objectives, such as the abolition of the slave trade, or prison reform, or factory acts, or tuberculosis, not by those who think they can achieve universal justice, or health, or peace. I think the art of life consists of tackling each immediate evil as well as we can. To avert or postpone one particular war by wise policy, or to render one particular campaign shorter by strength and skill or less terrible by mercy to the conquered and the civilians is more useful than all the proposals for universal peace that have ever been made.
Yes, precisely. Once we have embraced the idea that we must solve World Hunger rather than this hunger, or achieve Universal Peace instead of fixing today's situation, or Systemic Racism versus identifiable injustices means we have ceased solving anything at all. We are now merely reciting platitudes. The problem is not (no escape here) that we have diluted our efforts and spread ourselves too thin, though we have indeed done that. It is that we have changed our aim without noticing. Jesus doesn't say anything about Universal Peace or World Hunger or Systemic Racism, even though he addresses some examples of all those problems. I don't think it is good for us to run ahead of Him and say "Oh, I see the pattern here! I can generalise this into a much bigger goal! Got it!" I think he could have summarised in that way if He chose. He summarised the forty days of temptation in the desert down to three main categories of a couple of sentences each pretty darn well, after all.
Norman Borlaug did a great deal to solve World Hunger. He wasn't trying to solve world hunger, but to improve some plants.
Larger problems are a snare which prevent us from fixing anything at all. The devil laughs.