“Okay, so then why don’t you stop the suffering?”
“Stop the suffering?”
“Yes! Stop the suffering! There is terrible suffering all over the world. You have the power. My…sister…was killed…and she was…in terrible pain when she died. So, why don’t you make it just stop!”
Hestia looked at Leanne with a peculiar expression on her face. She placed her hand on Leanne’s shoulder and looked at her very intently.
“Sweetie, I wouldn’t know how to stop suffering. Well, not in the way that you mean it anyway. And even if I knew how I still wouldn’t do it.”
“You wouldn’t do it. You would just let little children…”
“Little children, little puppies, little kittens, fawns, rabbits, bears, sharks, trees, vegetables. Humans are no more deserving of being relieved of their suffering than any other animal that exists or has ever existed. You have to understand that suffering has occurred for billions of years on this planet. Living things suffer and die. It happens at the microscopic level and it happens to entire ecosystems. Suffering is virtually synonymous with life.
“Do you understand what that means? Suffering is one of the things that driveevolution. If I were to find a way to relieve suffering amongst all creatures, then evolution would either stop or become dramatically less efficient. Humanity would not exist without suffering.
“And what does it even mean to stop suffering? Do I prevent the goat from feeling pain while in the tiger’s mouth? Or do I stop the tiger from attacking the goat in the first place? If the goat doesn’t understand what it is to suffer, would it even feel motivation to get away from the tiger in the first place? Fear is one of the driving elements of survival of a species, and great fear could only be described as being a form of suffering. Without fear, the tigers will eat all the goats because the goats just won’t care.
Leanne sat down, her eyes brimming with tears. “But Susie was in so much pain…”
Hestia sat next to her and placed her hand on to Leanne’s cheek. “And now you are in pain because of your loss of Susie. You are suffering because of this loss. Do you want me to take away that suffering, so that you don’t care one way or the other over the loss of your sister? You could say that her pain was the greater, but where is the line drawn? As I say repeatedly, I am not all-wise.
“And that means that I wouldn’t know how to create a utopia for you either. A world without pain–without the suffering of any creature–would be a stagnant world. To make it so that each creature is happy eating only vegetables and that humans are happy all happy learning about the world…sweetie, I barely understand what ‘happiness is! I couldn’t make such a place, and if I could evolution would stop completely. It would simply be an artificial zoo that I would have to prevent physical reality from affecting for all eternity. I literally could not do that. I am a product of physical reality; I don’t exist in opposition to it.”