Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Watching others suffer is cruel, not uplifting

In reading recent articles about the suffering of those who are struggling to survive on low wages and no benefits, what I find curious is that there seem to be many people who either want to exploit the unfortunate or explain why they need to suffer.

The sad reality is that many of us are living on the edge economically. But those who have made mistakes in their past or thought that the good times would last forever and made big investments, such as having multiple children or buying a big house, now find themselves in a dire situation.

We are constantly told by the elite that suffering and poverty are uplifting. Every elected official rewrites his past and his ancestors’ past to make it sound like they struggled so hard and eventually achieved success through that struggle.

The difference today – as then – is that many people can’t even achieve the minimal accoutrements of economic success. Pensions are something only reserved for the highest of the high in our society now. Workers are shuttled into 401(k)s whose benefits are limited and dependent on a seriously rigged stock market.

As for wages, we are told that wages have to stay low so corporate profits can stay high, and that in the long run we’ll all benefit from people struggling to survive. Well, as the economist John Maynard Keynes said, “But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task, if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us, that when the storm is long past, the ocean is flat again.”

When those who are not in poverty and deprivation set out to teach moral lessons to those below, they prove their lack of compassion and respect, and deserve to have terrible things happen to them.

A lot of this reminds me of a science fiction story I read many years ago, but can’t remember the title or if it appeared in an anthology. It might have been in the anthology “Angels and Spaceships.”

The gist of it was that someone had created a way to make a mini-universe, where an individual could be the “god” of that universe. It was sort of the like the god-games of today, like “Civilization,” where you guide a society through its evolution and direct such things as its diplomacy with other societies and what kind of government and economic system it has.

In the story, a character in it is instructed to sit in a chair before his void and even encouraged to declare, “Let there be light.” And there is light. You create the universe and then creatures start to evolve on them. You can pick a world and begin to guide the lives of the creatures, communicating with them through various means about how you want them to live.

The protagonist becomes addicted to it, and begins to feel deep love for the creation. Still, as he watches them develop, he sees them begin to question his existence and control over affairs. He watches as they wrestle with the question, “Is god dead?”

One acquaintance of the main character points out that you can end the universe if it’s not to your liking, and while he’s done that – inflicting a mass cataclysm that destroys all life – sometimes he prefers to let the universe he’s created die of neglect. It’s fun, he says, to see them struggle as everything goes to pieces, the stars die out, the planet gets cold and they perish despite their best efforts.

Another person tells the main character that she thinks the fellow who likes to watch the suffering was once a romantic partner but that he has some kind of mental illness because of his enjoyment of the suffering of others.

I wish I could find this story today. The trouble I have is that it plays out today in the pages of the media. We hear of people who can’t get full-time work or who have full-time work but can’t get paid enough to survive, or who have work schedules diabolically designed to turn them into exhausted automatons with no chance to improve their lot.

We are told that associations of corporations are doing the work of the almighty, while associations of workers and the hungry are evil and out to destroy the nation when all they want is a fair shake.

Our politicians of either party are hopeless, reciting endless cliches about hard work and effort, and forgetting that work can be designed to be all for naught.

They join nonprofits that accomplish nothing beyond raising money to support bureaucracies and “raise awareness” in media campaigns that are pointless and useless, and don’t help those suffering from the afflictions they purport to cure.

To the elite, this is all a game like the one in that science fiction book. And we’re the ones who can see it all swept away into nothing. It’s their game, their rules, and we’re screwed.

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November 22, 2014 - Posted by | Life lessons, Living in the modern age, Politics | , , , , ,

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