Well It Could Be Much Worse…

I have read this argument on two separate occasions today and each time it has failed to address the root cause of the situation being discussed.  The “it could be worse” argument is flawed for two distinct reasons: 1) It discounts or trivializes the individual’s suffering and 2) It compares suffering in one location to suffering in another, which is unrealistic.  Life is not that simple.  Tell a woman experiencing mental abuse that her situation is not that bad because her neighbor is experiencing physical abuse.  Telling a hungry child that there are hungrier children in Africa will not make the hunger pains any less severe.  When you are in need, your situation is your world.  You are not concerned with what is happening thousands—or even tens—of miles away.  Suffering and poverty are not relative; each situation is unique and, more importantly, absolute.

If I have not clearly articulated my point, I encourage you to conduct a simple experiment.  Fill your bathtub with scalding hot water then get into it.  As you think about jumping out because you are in pain just remember your situation is not that bad because someone somewhere is experiencing a far more painful event.


One comment

  1. chrissnipes (@chrissnipes)

    I totally agree. As the father of child with some pretty severe special needs and physical limitations, I always remind myself that his suffering is just as important (if not more) than mine, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t embrace and deal with my own issues that come with being a parent of “special” child. Suffering is typically a personal emotion that should be validated (not necessarily coddled) because no one truly knows the extent or impact of what others are experiencing.

    That being said, I do constantly remind myself that there other children and parents that dealing with far more dire and severe situations and that I should be happy that my son smiles and laughs and looks at me with the expressive and soulful eyes I’ve ever seen.

    Enough for tonight, I have to get up early for PT tomorrow, but I guess it could be worse. I could be humping a 60lb ruck with a 240 strapped over my shoulder in mountains of Afghanistan.

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