When do we give up on someone? When is it ok to decide that the other person is not worth your time and bother? How much effort is too much effort? Who does not deserve your care, friendship, support?
These are questions we need to ask not just at a personal level, but also at a political level. There are a lot of impoverished, hungry, homeless people in the world. Refugees from war zones and tyrannies, more local victims of capitalism, the ill and disabled. A lot of our ‘leaders’ are of the opinion that we can let these people go, they do not matter. We can leave them to die. Internationally, too many ‘leaders’ seem to be viewing humans as either useful little units of production and consumption, or not worth their bother.
At a personal level, we are each of us finite beings. We have only so much time end energy to deploy. Who gets that time? Is it sucked up by a social media troll? Is it spent arguing with people who have no desire to listen? It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking these things are good stands taken for your cause, but the energy spent to outcome ratio isn’t persuasive, all too often. What happens if we let the not-listening don’t-care people go? It frees up time and energy to connect more usefully with people who are doing something useful, certainly.
Again at the personal level how much time do we have for the ill, the disenfranchised, the fragile? Any of us could end up there, although we might prefer not to think about it. Many people who are in crisis can’t be fixed with a kind word or a good deed, often it takes a lot more than that. How do we balance that with our own energy needs? When is it ok to say ‘you are too difficult and I can’t help you anymore?’ How do we distinguish between real need, and people with leeching habits?
There are no easy answers here, because so much of this has to be worked out on a case by case basis. I am going to argue against impossible fights with wilfully deaf opponents. I can’t save everyone. You can’t save everyone. None of us has much of a shot at saving people from themselves when they are their own worst enemies. We need to be kind to ourselves alongside being kind to each other or we just end up with more broken people. As individuals, we really need to consider our responsibilities and recognise at the same time that those responsibilities have to be finite because we are finite.
At a government level, every life matters. No one should live in poverty in this world that clearly has more than enough resources for everyone. No one should live in grotesque excess while others starve, and people are more than production units. Any government that thinks some of its populous doesn’t matter and is expendable and not worth bothering with, is a government that needs to be replaced.