Social Question

liminal's avatar

How do you pay attention to suffering and how do you respond to it?

Asked by liminal (7693 points ) February 1st, 2010

Sometimes I become aware of how tragically uninformed I am, for example, I just read this op-ed piece on the congo. I had no idea the width and depth of the devastation there: ”A peer-reviewed study found that 5.4 million people had already died in this war as of April 2007, and hundreds of thousands more have died as the situation has deteriorated since then.” My thoughts then turn towards the genocide in the Sudan, then they start turning towards all the neglect, oppression, and poverty I am aware of locally and globally. Then, I realize there is still probably so much I still don’t know about. Then, there is the suffering we each endure individually on both the inner-personal and inter-personal level. It can be numbing, to say the least.

How is it somethings get lots of attention and others don’t? How do you decide where to put your attention? What do you do in response to the suffering you notice? How do you decide when your response is “good enough”?

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8 Answers

SABOTEUR's avatar

First you must acknowledge and understand that feeling guilty about what you do…or don’t do does nothing to help you or anyone else.

The second thing is to accept the fact that each and every moment you’re doing the best you can. If you feel you’ve not done enough…do more.

Just don’t add guilt to the mix.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Since no one “regular” person can make a big impact on the humanitarian crises precipitated by these wars, we have to each join and support an organization that focuses on one or more places where their humanitarian aid won’t be quickly diverted to feeding and supplying those creating the problems.

The key is to find out whether these organizations focus is purely humanitarian or whether its aid is a pretext for coercing the victims to convert to the “benefactor’s” religion. I avoid supporting such groups with ulterior and sometimes hidden agenda.

Also you can act locally to support local organizations that help the homeless or underfed right in your area.

You are not helpless to change things but you must combine your efforts with others.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Well said, doc.

CaptainHarley's avatar

My wife and I do what we can at a local level to aleviate hunger and other problems. We try to give what we can to organizations that address problems worldwide. Other than that, all we know to do is pray.

princessbuttercup's avatar

There is empathetic reaction and active reaction and a combination of both. Personally it depends on the situation for me. If I feel I can help a lot I help a lot. If I feel lots of people are helping I help as much as I can.

daemonelson's avatar

I spend a lot of time in South Australia (since it’s where I live). While I am aware of events elsewhere, it’s quite difficult to spend a lot of time thinking about, or acting upon such events, no matter how strongly I feel about them. So my thoughts and actions tend to reside here.

wundayatta's avatar

I listen to the news and read the news and find out what is going on where. When I am moved, I give donations to various efforts to alleviate the suffering I hear about. I also try to raise the awareness of others of the suffering in the world and what it will take to fight it. Mostly this is political work. The other thing I do is to make an effort to understand why these events occur. Then, if there are things humans can change, I do a little to educate people about how such changes can occur. The little I do is usually through my children and my students.

EverRose11's avatar

I have always been a hands on type of person, where ever I see people needing help I do not offer advice, that comes for a dime a dozen ,I simply offer my hand and do whatever I can to help the oppressed… No matter where I am.

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