I feel an entitlement to help and with it cognitive dissonance. So many people have perished asking for the same help I need. Why should I expect my case to be any different, and why should I expect moral altruism from a system that randomly chooses victims to save? If the whole landscape changed, and there was this moral atmosphere to never leave anyone behind, then I’d readily accept and expect and fight for help. But in this world where only a few actually get help, when everyone asking (almost everyone) really truly deserves help – and morally requires that justice – how can I expect to have access to any help? I can’t, and that makes it all the worse.
We retract our desires and requests for help, our pleas, because we know it’s wrong. We know it’s wrong not because we hurt less than others, and those others don’t get help. We know its wrong because they don’t get help, and neither do we. We feel where only a limited few get help, we have to either offer that chance to them, or be cautious about overestimating our own suffering lest we shoot ourselves in the proverbial foot and become part of the problem. We retract our personal cause for a larger one that we feel might never result.
When we complain about our pain and feel guilty for complaining that guilt isn’t born of a rational evaluation of the practical disadvantages between individuals suffering – weighing some more severe than others based upon the limitations. We are, sort of, but not principally. We feel ‘guilty’, or we ‘withdraw’ our petition for pity, because we realize in some sense that the system is not set up in a way that justly helps those deserving – only those who are lucky, or immoral enough to make themselves appear ‘more’ needing, or to create their ‘own’ luck (luck they steal from other people suffering). So although the ‘poor me’ selfish inner monologue that runs through anyone’s head who is in pain seems, well, selfish and at least amoral, is in actuality at least partially (if not majorly – as I contend) moral bereavement. An acknowledgement of an unjust system of help, an inadequate moral atmosphere, and a reaction to the loss of similar people going through similar things who never saw any restitution.
Whenever you hear someone broken defiantly saying ‘help me, why can’t I get help’ to deaf ears what they’re really saying is ‘until we all get help, none of us can’.
I could resolve various sources of my individual pain. I could find the means to reconstruct relationships, I could shut off my empathy and fight for myself. And I might resolve those sources of my individual pain. But I know that I’m not really solving the pain. Just my pain. Even if I were given some magical gift, by some immesurable stroke of luck waking to find everything beginning to heal, I still would not feel satisfied. Because I would have simply solved one instance of the pain, not the cause. Nor would I have established conditions that generalize to all people sharing my affliction. When I see these ‘inspiring’ people with chronic medical conditions I see lies, I see deceit, I see ignorance, and I see foolishness. I know I will never resolve my pain until I can resolve the pain, causa sui.