The selfless click

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Inaction is the culprit

Let’s start with a setting and a simple question:

Imagine we are at home and a child is trapped in our basement. We can hear the child, we know he is starving and we also know that we can set him free (and save him) by unlocking the door. Would it be considered murder if we decide not to do it?

It naturally would.

This is important to understand. The reason why people see it as murder is because the action we must take to save a life is so small that the knowledge that the child is trapped does not justify our inaction. We can go even further and state that the extent to which we consciously define whether we are responsible for the death is the extent to which we have to go outside of our comfort zone to save that child.

Regardless of the situation, inaction from someone that is aware of the “death” outcome is commonly classified as murder. In the same way that not opening the basement door would fit in the above premise, our inaction in the real world is likely to lead to a very similar conclusion.

The sad reality all around us

As long as we don't know that there is a kid in the basement, we obviously didn’t have the intention to let him die. But once we know what we should do to save him and we still decide for inaction, we are complicit in his death.

This is happening daily all over the world. There are hundreds, if not thousands of YouTube videos depicting the sad reality around us. As an example, this video shows a father’s reaction when he discovers that his children died after an attack in the Syrian war.

Googling “Yemen starvation” and seeing images about it shows us another clear example of a sad “reality-check” happening right now in Yemen (the United Nations has reported hundreds of thousands of people being on the brink of starvation and death).

The only reason most of us don’t really care about those who have it worse comes down to the fact that no one is labeling our inaction as a sin. However, with some reflection, we would likely reach the conclusion that this inaction is actually determining the fate of many people’s lives.

You can find more examples of the suffering in the world on this page.

Where does the inaction comes from?

It can be quite sad to realize the reasons behind why we keep doing harm to each other. Some of us even wonder (when we watch, for example, World War II documentaries) why no one did anything to stop the genocide. Yet, the inaction that caused all those deaths is the same that most people share today.

And the reason for that is quite simple:

People don’t value consistency or logic. They value their experience more than anything.

Even though we might know what and how to do the right thing, we prefer instead to keep valuing our experience. Funnily enough, most of all human-suffering is caused by this attachment. We feel bad about something, and as we wonder why we feel bad, we enhance it to a point that is detrimental to the experience itself.

Watching videos where we are confronted with the world’s daily reality immediately puts all our problems into context. Sadness, loneliness or anger are nothing compared to the misery that afflicts the world. Moreover, even if we commit to helping other people, we still have a great life. Back in the days, doing the right thing could get us killed. Nowadays, however, we can have an impact in the world without having to put our safety at risk.

We have a responsibility towards the world

Consider the following situation:

If a mother lets her child die from starvation, who killed the child: the mother or the circumstances?

Most people would say that the mother should have taken care of the child.

But why is that so? What is the mother-son or father-son (or daughter) relationship? It is simply a constructed belief. For ages, there have been societies where the community takes care of everyone. Even today, our own safety is mostly guaranteed by the system in place (or the government) and not by our parents.

Having said that, we live in a society where everybody has a responsibility towards the world.

Some people might say:

“But I'm already doing the right thing!”

Well, someone that values experience only does the right thing to the extent that it feels good. If the intentions are not pure, we are not really doing the right thing.

As an example, if we donate a little bit of money to get rid of our guilt, we shouldn’t frame it as “doing the right thing”. It might have some positive impact, but doing the right thing begins by first realizing that even though we value our experience, we can take distance from it and by then accepting what we are and the responsibility that comes with it.

Life is not about us. In fact, it is about something much bigger than us. That's how we change the world, by using logic and consistency in order to define what the right thing is.

Everyone knows what is the right thing to do

Everyone with no exception knows what is, emotionally, the right thing to do. Everybody knows it! We also know that there's an emotional drive, deep within us, to do the right thing. We might not always know “how” but that is not the actual problem, for logic and consistency provides all the knowledge we need.

In fact, the problem lies within the question:

“Why should I care more about doing what is right than about my own experience?”

When we ask “why”, we are not asking for a logical reason, because we already know that it makes sense. The bottom line is that if, on a fundamental level, we don't care about the world, then everything that we experience, including all the misery and suffering, is going to eventually hit at our door. After all, if we don't care about the world, why should the world care about us?

Life is about something bigger than us

If we really boil it down to the essence, clicking is merely valuing doing what is right rather than valuing our own experience. The best way to understand this insight is by realizing that not only can we do something to improve the world (and the idea that we can’t is a blatant lie) but we also have the responsibility to do it.

This insight lays down a map on how to get our life together in a way that contributes to a bigger picture, one that is much more important than us. We weren't born just for the sake of experiencing a nice, comfortable life. We were born within a bigger picture, to evolve humanity and move forward (just like a cell in our body). Even our inner drive to help others arises from the fact that we are all interconnected. And when we realize how unfair it is for others that have it worse, we deeply realize that we can and should do something about it.

At the end of the day, the only thing that is in between doing the right thing and not doing the right thing is the fact that most people value their experience more than anything else.  

If we reflect on how flawed and selfish it is, we would certainly realize that the impact we can have in real lives and the change we can bring to real problems would drastically increase our ability to make a difference. That's how we would bring a better world for our children, for the children of our children and maybe even for ourselves.