I met a new friend at breakfast. We got talking about how shameful it is, that we can afford basic stuff like a very good breakfast; and luxuries like expensive alcohol, when beyond the walls of our hotel there are children who are hungry and suffering.
We may not have caused the suffering and pain in the world, but what have we done to alleviate it? My new found friend informed me he that gives money to NGO’s for charity. This is such a good thing, yet he feels very guilty about the state of things in the world. He wonders how anyone with any compassion, cannot see how obviously bad things are. I think that’s exactly the problem though, the suffering is so obvious we ignore it, thinking all the time to ourselves “there’s only so much I can do”.
The River Nile
The greedy, selfish and wicked are probably a lost cause, but for anyone with any compassion and altruism, we indeed need to do something, or do more if we are doing something already.
“…there is no one in any rule who, in so far as he is a ruler, considers or enjoins what is for his own interest, but always what is for the interest of his subject or suitable to his art; to that he looks, and that alone he considers in everything which he says and does.”
For many the question will be where do I start from? The problem is humongous, my friend finds the thought of it depressing. The quote above from Socrates may help. If we consider the good of others in whatever position we find ourselves, in whatever art, then the suffering in the world may go away. That is the only way we can truly be whatever we claim to be.
“Do you mean, for example, that he who is mistaken about the sick is a physician in that he is mistaken? or that he who errs in arithmetic or grammar is an arithmetician or grammarian at the time when he is making the mistake, in respect of the mistake? True, we say that the physician or arithmetician or grammarian has made a mistake, but this is only a way of speaking; for the fact is that neither the grammarian nor any other person of skill ever makes a mistake in so far as he is what his name implies; they none of them err unless their skill fails them, and then they cease to be skilled artists. No artist or sage or ruler errs at the time when he is what his name implies; though he is commonly said to err…,”
The Amateur Philosopher