I was recently asked how one can come to terms with all the suffering and injustice in the world without falling into a deep depression, knowing that there is only so much you can do to change it. Almost every depression I’ve ever experienced came from thoughts like these, and I’ve been searching my whole life for an answer.
I’ve looked to religion, philosophy, literature, history, science, and more, and I haven’t yet found a satisfactory one. More than that, I doubt anyone ever will.
I don’t think we can ever come to terms with the suffering in this world. It would be impossible. But I also don’t think we have to accept it or turn a blind eye to live a happy life.
The biggest thing that has helped me is the recognition that no amount of suffering on my part will ever alleviate the suffering of someone else.
I can’t remember where I heard this, but it has always stuck with me:
You cannot suffer enough to prevent others from suffering. You cannot hate enough to stop others from hating. You cannot be sick enough to heal. others from sickness.
Suppose you’re a doctor. You’re driving down the highway, and you see an accident on the other side of the divide. You stop to help and notice that 3 people have died. One person is still alive, You think you can help her, but there’s no guarantee. Maybe it won’t work. Would you try? Or would you look at all the people you can’t help, think about the possibility that your efforts might fail, and lie down next to her, saying, “I’m so sorry you are dying; I will die with you.”
We can’t help anyone when we are paralyzed with despair.
You may never be able to rid the world from suffering, but you can add joy. You can add kindness. You can add love. You can add laughter.
Use your sensitivity and compassion to bring good into this world. If you do that, you will alleviate more suffering than you know. And that matters.