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To even have to say that the poor have suffered enough saddens me. I would have to rate compassion as one of the top characteristics of what it means to be human. Unfortunately, the predilection to cause or allow to continue suffering as a way of learning seems to be commonplace. I’ll be the first one to say that you can learn a lot from suffering. If you smacked me in the side of the head with a 2 x 4, I suspect that I would probably learn something. However, that is a crappy reason for smacking somebody on the side of the head with a 2 x 4! Suffering happens. I suspect that enough suffering happens that we don’t need to cause it, get in the way of alleviating it, or ignore it for there to be plenty of raw experience of suffering to learn the particular lessons that suffering has to teach. Like many things in life, I suspect that our attraction to suffering as a means to teach people is closely related to our desire to control other people. Compassion short-circuits the desire to control other people through suffering, because compassion links others’ suffering to our own suffering. I think that most people would agree that wanting suffering for oneself is not healthy. Unfortunately, many fewer people would agree that wanting suffering or others is not healthy. The idea that people should suffer for their own good is commonplace. I think this actually means that other people should suffer for our own concept of what is good. But, how can suffering be not good for ourselves yet good for others? It strikes me that lack of compassion is the true poverty. Although quite conveniently, many people might even be willing to tolerate that as long as it doesn’t involve financial poverty. The simple reality is that many people would gladly trade their spiritual health for financial health. When asked the proverbial question, “your money or your life?” most people would probably have to think about it for a while. However, I don’t want to get caught in the either/or thinking that spiritual health is necessarily in conflict with financial well-being. If we took care of first things first, our spiritual health, which is a communal project, treating one another with love and respect, then we should experience community in such a way that our financial well-being is not threatened. There is plenty of resources on the planet for the need of all. There are not enough resources on the planet for the greed of all! Now, in the rough-and-tumble world that we live in, I believe that those who are spiritually healthy do not generally end up materially wealthy. I believe that this is due to the simple fact that spiritually healthy people, that is compassionate people, do not commandeer a lot of material resources for themselves in a world where people are starving to death and don’t have the basic necessities of life. It seems inescapable to me that the only way to get around this reality is to somehow believe that poor people deserve to suffer. Thus, I pose the simple statement, the poor have suffered enough. I’d like to think that this is not a question, but a fact.