“Let’s save 1,000 lives.”
“Let’s focus on well-being and suffering.”
Why do those statements come across that way? It seems as much as we want to be happy, people have a genuine aversion to actually focusing on it. To say, “I’m hurting,” is to admit something dirty or weak. Especially when nothing is obviously wrong. To be privileged is to lose any reason to suffer.
This seems ignorant and misinformed.
Suffering is an internal state, not necessarily connected to one’s own external circumstances.
The fact is, the better my external circumstances get, the more acutely I feel the disconnect between me and “them”. Them being people all around the world who have to watch their children die in front of them because they don’t have a few dollars to spare for water, food, or medicine. It is a tragedy. One that should cause everyone in the “first world” to walk around in a constant state of acute pain.
Yet we don’t.
Only another reason to feel pain and suffering. The lack of empathy from the developed world is itself a reason for despair. How can we all be so comfortable in our extravagance. We sit on plush leather sofas in air conditioned mansions as single room brick houses literally fall down around people in places like Kathmandu.
“I don’t need anything at all. Donate money to Against Malaria if you want to do something for me.”
“I can’t do that, it’s not the same. I want to give you something, not some distant person unconnected from me.”
The above was a short conversation with the person who should be closest to me in the entire world. Who should love me unconditionally and wish to fulfill all my wishes. Her two children take several trips a year to developing countries, one as a surgical nurse and the other as an educator. Our lives have no effect on her spending decisions when it comes to gifts. She continues to spend on us, two working professionals with salaries and no kids, debt, or health problems.
How do you change others when you can’t change a person that has loved you since birth?
And by writing these lines, I know she will be pained herself. More suffering. I’ve hurt her with no intention. She’s hurt me with no intention but to show love through giving.
These small episodes mount and grow. Over time they result in depression. A constant sucking of optimism and hope. The lessening of zest and zeal.
James Altucher writes, “You have to bleed so much in every post that your superficial “you” is scared. The intuitive, internal “you” that’s in touch with this creative source knows what the right thing to write is and what the right thing to bleed is.”
I’m “bleeding” left, right, and center. It’s going out faster than it’s coming in.
My “superficial me is scared” because most will interpret this wrong. They might reach out to help. Worried that something is wrong. This is not a call to help me. It is a call to help anyone in need. Open up. Share. Connect. Listen. Help others who are hurting.
Stop blaming, guilting, assigning responsibility, expecting, and shaming. No one “deserves” it. Whatever it is.
Be. Connect. Love. Help.