I have come to despise the society I live in. I find the people's "values" abhorrent and the things they do vile and misguided, but it seems clear that nothing will change the status quo, judging how those who speak out against these vile things are often met with hatred and anger. I do not want to live in my society anymore, I am so disillusioned with it, nor do I want to lend any skills I might have (by being in the workforce) for it to benefit from. I have sometimes considered moving to another country that might share my values more closely, but if there are any, I don't know if I'd be able to "survive" in it due to factors such as language barriers. After I really started to think about it, I began to realize that putting an end to my own existence may be the ultimate solution to this dismal problem. I am not happy in this life and this society. If I choose to live out my life but force myself to keep my mouth shut about the issues that bother me, it will mean a lifetime of misery as I slowly rot on the inside with anger and despair. But if I do choose to speak out against the issues that bother me, I will likely be ridiculed and ostracized (or worse). In other words, if I live, it will be a lose-lose for me, no matter what I do. However, if I die prematurely, I will be free of this abhorrent culture I live in and any servitude to it. My society will benefit as well, because it will not have an unwelcome "maverick" living on its resources and capital and it can continue doing whatever it wants in peace. A win-win. In today's day and age, suicide tends to be discouraged and is seen as a bad thing. However, in a situation like this, where both the individual and his society hate each other and neither will change, it seems like the perfect solution. There is no one in my life who is dependent on me for survival. And isn't death inevitable anyway? Still, it would be nice to have some nonjudgmental feedback from someone on this kind of situation and my proposed solution. Do you have any thoughts on the matter? Please do not feel obligated to provide an "alternative" solution if it's only out of a feeling of moral duty or fear of accountability. Thanks.

Before asking if something is a solution to a problem, it's worth asking whether we've gotten the problem right.

There's a sign I found a few years ago; it's on my office door. It reads "Don't believe everything you think." Almost everyone needs that advice from time to time; I certainly do. A lot of what our brains churn out, especially when we're unhappy, just isn't true. While I was reading what you wrote, that slogan kept coming back to me. The reason? An awful lot of what you say just doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

Yes: some people have abominable values. But there are also people who are decent, thoughtful, try to do the right thing and often succeed. I'm not guessing about this. I could make a long list drawn just from people I happen to know personally. This includes people who disagree with me about lots of things, including politics and religion. Furthermore, I'm not in any way exceptional. I'm completely comfortable saying that almost everyone knows a great many good people. There are quite literally millions and millions of such people. And while I don't know where you live, I'd be willing to bet large sums of money that plenty of good and even wise people live near enough to you that you wouldn't need to go to another country to find them.

We could talk about other things you write and the conclusions would be similar. I'm not saying this to insult you or make you angry. I'm saying it because of what I said at the beginning: if we want to know whether something is a solution to a problem, it matters whether we've gotten the problem right in the first place. I don't know anything about your circumstances, and so I don't know why it seems to you that pretty much all of what you call "society" is a pack of miscreants. But since you use the word "society" for a much broader group than your own circle of acquaintances, I think I can safely say that you're suffering from a kind of illusion.

What's the cure? Specifics matter, but some general points are likely to apply. The first is the slogan on my sign: Don't believe everything you think. Really; just don't. Detach from your judgments. When big, broad, negative generalizations intrude on your thoughts, don't fight with them, don't resist them, but observe them without judgment and let them pass on through. This is the technique behind what's sometimes called "insight meditation" (a contemporary name for Buddhist Vipassana meditation) and it can be quite powerful once you get the hang of it. There's nothing mystical or supernatural or cultish about it. You don't need to take vows or wear robes. It's just a technique that centuries of experience and a fair bit of recent research bears out. What you learn is that thoughts are just thoughts. You don't need to give them power over you.

Like any technique, it takes some practice and a good teacher can be helpful. There are also things worth reading. One book from a few years ago may be worth your time: Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. Well worth the few dollars it costs.

One other thing: Tara Brach's book talks a lot about compassion: compassion for others, but also compassion for ourselves. The world could use more of that—the world and everyone in it.

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