Felix Adler spoke and wrote of three spiritual pains that confront humanity. What do you think about these concepts?
Felix Adler: The Three Spiritual Pains excerpted from The Reconstruction of the Spiritual Ideal Hibbert Lectures, Delivered in Manchester College, Oxford, May, 1923
...the characteristic spiritual pain of our time is threefold.
First, the insignificance of man in this wide universe. ... A humble place in the ranks is assigned to us. Is there any valid reason for supposing that we are more worth while than our prededcessors? insects, serpents, sheep and oxen, the carnivorae. ... They are products of nature, so are we. They have their noxious or kindly traits, so have we. ...
The truths of science must be received as such, but a way must also be found of not only vindicating, but enhancing the spiritual prerogative of man, of establishing as a fact that there exists in him a spiritual nature which exalts him, which gives him a unique place in the scheme of things.... He is a witness of the infininte striking into the finite world.
The second mode of pain which is felt far more acutely at present thatn at any othe time, is due to the fate of those innumerable fellow beings who perish by the wayside while mankind slowly and awkwardly tries to acheve progress-- I mean those many thousands who are dying unhelped in the hospitals, I mean the victims of the foul conditions that exist in the slums, I mean the millions of young lives that were cut short during the late war. We stand, as it were, on the shore, and see multitudes of our fellow being struggling in the water, stretching forth their arms, sinking, drowning, and we are powerless to assist them. We deceive ourselves as to the nature of the problem when we say that we will bend our energies to prevent others from perishing. That of course we are called upon to do by every spark of moral feeling. We must be incessant in our efforts to improve material conditions, but can we therefore avert our faces from the awful moral problem of those who perish in the meantime?...
The third problem is constituted by the need of relief from the intolerable strain of the divided conscience.... (Paraphrasing by Susan Rose): the strain is from the tension that comes between the need to have a personal moral standard as an individual and then to have a moral standard that applies to ones' interacting with various groups.