Two Types of Suffering

Within the scope of this work, human suffering can be reduced to two basic types or categories.

Unavoidable suffering is the first type. Unavoidable suffering is environmental suffering that despite our best efforts we are unable to mitigate or escape. This category includes natural disasters, averse agricultural conditions, excessive heat or cold, and their bodily effects on us including disease, hunger and thirst, hypothermia and heat asphyxia, and bodily injury. This isn’t an exhaustive list.

Environmental suffering can also be a result of people’s poor choices, past or present, and so those instances would fall into the next category.

I call it “Unnecessary Suffering”, which is suffering people have imagined into being through dishonest choices, and beneath that, dishonesty with their selves.

Examples of Unnecessary Suffering include bigotry of every kind (racism, sexism, chauvinism, religious supremacy, etc.), injury and disease from pollution of any kind, interpersonal and institutional psychological, physical, and sexual abuse, the impacts of most violent crimes, the impacts of wealth inequality as a result of our capitalist system, and the list goes on.

These are all causes and types of suffering that people could have prevented by making more honest, and specifically, more self-honest choices; by holding better values, which means being taught better values, which has to start somewhere if we are ever to change and to continue to develop as a species.

Both types of suffering as described here can be readily mitigated by pursuing self honesty and self acceptance, first, so that we may then address our suffering more honestly, sans the fog of our hitherto unrestrained emotionalism.

A big part of the problem is that we attempt to form solutions to problems prior to accepting the reality of the problem in its entirety – or in as much clarity as we can currently understand. We have a great backlog of remedial work to accomplish individually before we can make the kind of grand scale human progress needed to address existential threats like our climate crisis. Some methods to start tackling this on an individual scale will be described later.

We need to do the same prerequisite work to mitigate our climate crisis as we do to alleviate our depression and anxiety in day to day life. Both problems stem from the same source – our self abusive addictions to the emotions we value and the denials and false expectations we employ to make our emotionalism feel appropriate. These addictions may be addressed by pursuing self honesty and self acceptance, thus clearing the path for productive work on external issues.