Why do people desire to prevent others suffering? Why do we sacrifice for others?
Is it human nature and in our best interest to support and revive each other in times of need?
There are, of course, different perspectives about this. Some people are bleeding hearts and will do whatever it takes to achieve equanimity and with everyone receiving a fair share. On the other hand, what is fair? And how do we take into consideration the ideas of personal responsibility, determination, and tenacity when it comes to getting our life where we want it to be? This second perspective may not be so compassionate and giving.
Neither view is right or wrong of course, and I personally see some value to both perspectives. It’s very healthy to have a sense of determination and drive, however it’s hard to deny that with a little more generosity and giving the world would be a vastly better place. It’s difficult to find a balance.
Consider that the online phones service Skype was just purchased by Microsoft for around 8 billion dollars. Can you imagine how this money could’ve have been utilized to drastically improve this entire country?
Though, it’s not Microsoft’s responsibility to get our country out of debt or change local communities, it’s each and every one of our responsibilities.
I know it’s a hard pill to swallow. Even with extensive assistance there will always be people who just can’t get their life together, and will never be the success story that motivates our giving and generosity.
This hopeless notion may be a major reason people don’t dedicate more time and resources to helping those in need. They figure “what’s the point?”
So, what is the point? Do we have an ethical prerogative to improve and even save peoples lives?
Don’t throw life away
What about those people who are “drains” on society? The one’s who use resources, never work a day in their life, and will ultimately never give back to the community.
As I was discussing this topic recently with a friend of mine whom is a mental health counselor, I was offered some very uplifting and reassuring insight. My friend explained that he had gotten into the field because he knows people can change, and in fact he has seen many people completely transform.
In this sense, there is some utility in never giving up on others. Everyone has a purpose and a place in this world. Whether to teach people a valuable lesson and help them learn what not to do, or in making a major impact on the world by inspiring others and overcoming the odds, we all have a purpose to be uncovered.
You never know, it may be the one person who is down and out who ends up discovering the cure for cancer if they are able to make it through the tough times.
We should never throw life away despite our personal values of industry and advancement. Without compassion the human race would not survive.
Building better communities
Psychology has a rich tradition of working to promote healthier communities, and a major focus in positive psychology is building positive institutions. When people come together and have an infrastructure set up to build social bonds and strengthen social ties there is a much greater chance for community wellness.
This can come from supporting diversity and encouraging group cohesion, as well as working to help others become empowered and feel a sense of purpose and autonomy within the community.
This is more than simply having basic needs met. People will turn to unhealthy ways of coping and dealing with inequality if they do not feel heard. Do you feel the current system in your community provides the management of adequate resources? Could political and societal institutions redistribute resources in a more effective way to empower a community more holistically?
I would love to hear from you. What are your thoughts?
Photo credit: Tony the Misfit