:  Suffering is the basic element that makes up the negative valence of affective phenomena.
:  the state or experience of one that suffers
A brief look at the days' news headlines, and it is not difficult to see; the impact of war, the struggle to pull people out of poverty, deteriorating environment, from glaciers to endangered species, disease, famine etc. And though the two definitions above both suggest that suffering is a human experience, not until Wikipedias' second explanation (listed above) do they infer suffering in the boarder sense of things not human as well. This is the context in which this article is written.
This morning I woke up at approximately 4:00 a.m. EST, disturbed by the matter of suffering; different images and thoughts entering my mind about suffering from a historical perspective to modern day. For over an hour I could not shake the visions and thoughts from my mind. I don't generally have a propensity towards these thoughts, but they arise periodically; it is not an emotional struggle in the sense that it disturbs my thought process, but more along the lines of an overwhelming desire for a different sense of the human experience as it relates to all things that result in, interact with or are some part based on human actions as a causal factor of suffering.
After reflecting on a statement captured from a food critic on a local Boston radio show, a rather odd source to be sure; it helped create some context for this approach for suffering. The essence of the food critic's argument was that farm-to-table is a way of life and not a propaganda technique to get people or consumers in the restaurant. We cannot use propaganda to end suffering. Authentically doing something about suffering actually holds value. Perhaps that is not the most productive way to put it, because there are multiple agents of change who "want to do something about it", but where does the real change occur? What type of campaign, commitment, determination, endurance and perseverance would it take to ensure suffering comes to an end? Can we achieve that? Authenticity however, may suggest something all together different, a more active role in ending suffering.
By saying or assuming ending suffering is not possible, not related to personal injuries of course, then why would we attempt to change the course of events at all? Does that result in some sort of fatalistic view that there is no hope. Yet and still, even the sound of the word "hope", brings with it an air of never-going-to-happeness. It is that very sense of jargon, and hyperbole that often results in the autonomic response of head-nodding. Out of the jargon jar, and into a more productive script may be one possibility; that with a lot of will power, political effort and fundamental shift in the way humanity thinks about suffering and the ability to end it, that we perhaps will emerge on the other side.
This article will begin a short journey into my exploration of suffering, and what we will do, are doing and can do to end it. My initial thoughts are that it requires a never ending effort, the kind of effort business people put into running their company, but with a different objective.
All of this begins with the belief that suffering exceeds all other priorities and that it is not limited to people, but animals, the environment or anything else that is subject to virulent exploitation by the human species. Ending suffering is a way of life.
I look forward to discussions and insights. I can also be reached on twitter @scotlandwillis