All suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction.
As I selected this aphorism for my musing today, I could not help but wonder why something that is so apparently obvious, could not have been rooted out of most of our lives, centuries ago through the acknowledgment of it having been so.
Imagine if we had the cure to prevent the majority of all suffering (or at least most of it). Wouldn’t humanity be wise to enable a procedural process to eventually ween it out of our cultures and leave it in the rear view mirror?
Siddhartha Gautama, most commonly referred to as the Buddha, was a wandering ascetic and religious teacher who lived in South Asia during the 6th or 5th century BCE and founded Buddhism. So approximately 2500 years ago, this observation was made well known to others, with hopes that it would be shared generously until such time as everyone could see the problem for what it is, and work to resolve it.
Is it so far fetched to believe that this could be so? When humans work together, very significant steps towards progress are made. Such was the Magna Carta, for example. One only need point at the Ten Commandments, or the Bill of Rights to support the theory that a construct of human behavior can be put in front a large segment of society with an expectation that enough of the society will understand and adhere as to make living around one another more enjoyable, fruitful and peaceful.
Ignorance is a condition that is surely treatable, so long as the society at large values this and prioritizes the dissemination of knowledge, such that it will better society as a whole. Unfortunately, it appears that individualistic greed surpasses the needs of the many, in favor of the powerful parties who are able to leverage greed over benevolence.
Looking at the animal kingdom, this is not a singularly human trait. The alpha animals dominate over their local specie and demand mating rights and eating rights, amongst others. So it would appear that ignorance is just as likely to be weaponized in favor of enabling the powerful, greedy specie from having to reduce any portion of that from which their greed arises.
The ability for individuals to wield their power over others, thereby entitling them to something more than the next individual, will always be the core of this problem, and does not appear that it will ever change. Human ignorance is a tool that is wielded by those who have the power, such that they may continue to dominate their oversized share of the prosperity of the community.
When we as a specie finally accept this about ourselves, we are one step closer to finding the solutions to diminish suffering and improve the lives of all.