Sometimes You Can’t Help People

Teresa Roberts
5 min readSep 23, 2023

Especially When They Vote Against Their Own Self Interests

Life’s a journey (my photo)

I was born with an extra helping of empathy.

Trust me, I’m not bragging. Too much empathy, if there is such a thing, is a heavy cross to bear. Not only do we deal with the emotional ramifications of our pain and suffering but we also go through life bombarded, literally assaulted, by the immense suffering of others. I’m not here to engage in the age-old argument about whether life is a blessing or not. Being alive may very well be a miracle bordering on a cosmic gift, but there’s a huge price to pay.

Suffering and pain are a part of life, often the biggest part for all living creatures. I’m finally starting to accept that.

With acceptance came a realization that there are many, many, many things in life that I simply can’t change. I’m powerless no matter how overwhelmingly strong the desire to fix the problems of the world. I can’t. It was that realization that sort of saved me from endless gut-wrenching pain. Not completely but I could at least talk myself down off the ledge.

Once I was able to stabilize my reaction to the suffering of humanity, I also began to notice something.

People can be difficult to help. In fact, they often refuse to listen to logic and instead indulge in practices that are designed to hold them back. They’re stuck in the quagmire of old behavior patterns. They see no options and even if I were to suggest a different approach to problem solving, they would react as though I’m a busybody. “ No thank you!” they’d say. “ I may be a relentless complainer but that doesn’t mean I want you to offer me any new options. I’ll stick with the old way and hope for a different outcome.”

And, they do stick with their old ways as life repeats itself once again.

Recently, I’ve had another aha moment or two centered around the question of whether it is even possible to help people who vote against their own best interests. Let me offer a few examples.

  • Women who vote for politicians who want to take away the hard-won women’s rights gained in the last century.
  • Teachers who vote for politicians who want to destroy the teacher’s union. Once again, the very idea of unions to protect workers’ rights has never been seen before in the history of mankind until the 20th century.
  • Minimum wage workers who vote for those who love the right-to-work law and prefer to keep wage earners at the lowest hourly wage possible.
  • Old people who vote for politicians who are constantly trying to undermine Medicare and social security if not do away with it altogether.

It doesn’t always have to be through voting either. Our power structure isn’t only dependent upon the political system. Religions and other cultural influences are very effective at controlling people’s behaviors. I’m equally baffled at their willingness to embrace such limiting ideologies.

For example …

  • Women who marry men who are controlling and patriarchal or choose to attend churches that promote women being in subjection to men.
  • Parents who fought in past undeclared wars where there was never a clear winner but are willing to send their sons and daughters off to fight the next undeclared war.
  • People who buy things they don’t need and then carry a heavy burden of debt for years because they are manipulated by advertisements and propaganda.

I could go on and on if I had the time, but suffice it to say, it’s hard to help people who won’t help themselves.

I understand our power structure is part of our culture and people all over the world tend to go along with whatever cultural expectations they were gifted at birth. But frankly, I’m getting tired of the masses refusing to take a stand, because when they don’t it affects me and my family, too.

You see, it’s become quite popular to blame everything on the 1%, the nasty corporate world, and our modern-day aristocracy. You know what I mean. The rich and powerful are alive and well and kingmakers exist. We tend to hate them and love them at the same time. Many of us aspire to be them. One thing they have in common is a sense of unity. They’re in a club that the rest of us will never be part of no matter how hard we try.

I get that!

But when will the masses start refusing to go along with the bullshit? When will women stop honoring men who make horrible fathers and terrible husbands? When will women refuse to join religions that aim to destroy the rights of their daughters? When will employees stick together to improve working conditions? Why on earth would Walmart workers vote Republican?

Do you know that in Florida there are school districts that have such low membership in the teacher’s union that by January of 2024 they will lose their union completely. That’s right! There was a law passed recently that demands at least 50% membership to keep a functioning union. Why on earth would teachers fail to support their unions? Especially during a time when public education is under such duress. Not just duress, but it is being deliberately undermined so that it will fail and then the powers that be can say, “See, it’s failing. Let’s privatize education.”

Do you remember when Hillary lost the election to Trump?

I was stunned that so many of my friends voted third party at the time. Their decision to do so helped usher in the most detrimental political movement in my lifetime. We may have wanted to see progress made, a noble cause, but in the end, we regressed and are still regressing to this day. The damage done will take decades to right if we ever manage to do so.

You see what I mean?

The masses have to take responsibility for their actions. There are more of us than them. We outnumber those in power many times over. How is it that we get so befuddled that we don’t see our power in our sheer numbers? How is it that we aren’t able to think beyond the end of our collective noses? When will we unite and work together to make the lives of our children better? No more endless wars, no more patriarchy, no more dead-end jobs, no more churches calling the shots. It’s mind-boggling that we still live as though we’re the serfs outside the castle wall, bred and born to do the grunt work and fight the king’s wars. We still don’t recognize that they don’t care about us. They’re in a club that we’ll never get invited to join but we’re also part of the problem.

Will I stop fighting? No! I can’t. I have a granddaughter and I don’t want to leave her a messy world. I’m just clearing the air today with this piece. I’m deeply discouraged that it’s so hard to point the arrow in the right direction. Change takes a long time even when the answers are right under our noses.

I’m sick of the whining. If we choose to remain uncooperative with one another and are stupid enough to vote against our own best interests, then maybe we deserve what we get.

Teresa is an author and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.

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Teresa Roberts

Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.