1. What is suffering?
Religion is a spiritual refuge for sufferers. Religion is the Opium of the masses, the Prozac for the poor, the Soma for the Epsilon. It is interesting to know how the Oriental Buddhist view differs from the Occidental Christian view on the way of alleviation of sufferings. (I hope Peter can elaborate on this point.)
Depression has now been classified by medical profession as a physical “illness”, in other words, it is no longer a “mental suffering.” It is now in the same category as flu, headache, stomachache, toothache, gum infection, gastroenteritis, or any other infections which can be cured by popping a few antibiotics and Paracetamol.
3. To what extent can one alleviate one’s perception of “suffering”?
Gerry is more interested in finding answers to moral dilemmas in specific social context. Can one go against one’s moral principle even break the law in order to alleviate one’s suffering?
Christine thinks that those who had broken their moral principles to relieve their temporary suffering often live to regret their action afterwards. She offered an interesting example to illustrate her point: A group of air-crash survivors in the snow-bound mountains of Andes, owing to a moment of insanity triggered by starvation, succumbed to cannibalism to relieve their hunger pain. At the time, it seemed to them justifiable to eat another fellow human in order to save their own lives. Years later when they reflected on that episode, they could not resolve to ease their conscience and they lived the rest of their life in remorse.
Gerry’s question is more specific: Is it justifiable for an illegal immigrant, a penniless single mother with two starving children, to resort to prostitution? Is it lawful for a battered wife to kill her abusive husband in order to end her misery?
There is a distinction between a person who harms or destroys him/herself in order to alleviate his/her suffering, and a person who seeks to blame others for his own suffering, and tried to alleviate his pain at the expenses of others, says Malcolm.
Christine, full of anecdotes, picks out another example: the current NHS system offering to pay for Obesity sufferers to have elective operations such as liposuction and stomach binding at the expenses of other seriously ill patients who urgently needed life-saving operations. That is an example of transferring one’s own suffering to others.
The final question is: does prostitution actually alleviate or aggravate the suffering of the woman (or the man)? This is an entirely different kettle of fish. One can write a whole book on the subject: the battle of the sexes.