About Suffering in the World (homepage) / Toward Systematic Mutual Assistance


This page presents very tentative texts by Robert Daoust that deals with the idea of a series of rescue interventions to be made in order to begin or establish a universal program of security concerning suffering. Texts were written between November 20 2001 and January 20 2003. Other tentative texts on the same topic can be seen by clicking here.


SOS-Prevention — SOS-Prevention is a project whose mission consists in bringing down and maintaining to zero the number of all cases of suffering that are extremely severe and that are "really" avoidable. The task during the initial phase of the project is to realize a series of rescue interventions in pursuit of two objectives :

1) beginning effectively, concretely and right away, to fulfill the project mission;

2) beginning modestly an organization that might become large enough to manage successfully the whole mission of the project.

Rescue interventions may be realized with or without the collaboration of existing organizations.

SOS-Prevention interventions are direct rescue activities,  but their full meaning can only be grasped by considering that they belong to a "series" of intervention which prefigures a complete system of prevention.

The project is based on the idea that our own common selfish interest is to prevent systematically all sufferings that are atrocious, inadmissible, and obviously avoidable.


SOS-Network — SOS-Network is a new project for the protection of all in front of the worst cases of physical or mental suffering. Its mission consists in solving or preventing all identifiable cases of suffering that are extremely severe, and that can be avoided at a reasonable cost, but that are not presently tackled because no organization exists for bringing down and maintaining to zero the total number of those cases. The project initial strategy is to realize a series of direct rescue interventions in order to begin to identify and to handle systematically the relevant cases, in collaboration with existing organizations.



The SOS-Network project proposes a new kind of action for fighting against excessive suffering in the world.

Introduction        Description         Starting Up



As an introduction, here are a few translated excerpts from L'Organisation générale contre les maux (A General Organization Against Ills), a work which presents an approach to suffering that has given rise to SOS-Network.

There are beings in our universe who suffer too much, and this must be stopped (…) Misfortune drives people to commit suicide, murder, evil (…) it strips us of our ability to be happy, to deal bravely with pain and death, to fight against ills (...) One being suffers too much, and every wonder on earth is wavering! (...) We are against excessive suffering, not only because suffering is painful, or because it is an insult to our pride, but also because too much pain deprives life and consciousness of their value, allows death to look preferable, prevents us from enjoying a happy existence which is the very justification of our presence in this universe.

Our insistent desire to systematize our work against ills is linked to the necessity of forming a structure which is complete enough to embrace and go beyond the structures and complexities of misfortune. (…) Without such a theoretical system, there is no rational basis for action, no possibility for a wide consensus, no powerful organization, no huge means at our disposal, (...) no possibility for a massive transforming movement. (...) We lack continuity, permanence, coordination, efficiency, global outlook.

An enterprise must definitely envision victory (...), if it hopes that this victory will be made real some day. Indeed we must not only act but overcome! And how will we reach that victory if we never dare to conceive it, or to plan it, or to act in accordance with it? To resolve a problematic situation we need more than mere wishes, denunciations, appeals, goodwill, half-measures, one-off actions, stopgap measures, partial wins... We must want to attain what we long for, really believe in our ability to succeed and effectively take the means that are required. In the same manner that we would do for any other enterprise, we must overtly orient our work (against excessive suffering) toward total success.



SOS-Network is a project whose aim is to resolve or prevent cases of excessive suffering.

The project is concerned more precisely with cases of physical or mental suffering that are extremely severe and that can be avoided at a reasonable cost, but that are not taken in charge.

The leading idea of the project is to mobilize resources, especially people, and to realize direct rescue interventions, in collaboration with existing organizations, in order to resolve or prevent avoidable cases that are not tackled by anybody.

On the long term, the goal of the enterprise is to become large enough to bring down and maintain to zero the number of inadmissible cases of suffering in the world.



Activities during the beginning phase of SOS-Network comprise 1) identifying cases on which to intervene, 2) mobilizing resources, 3) choosing interventions to be realized for resolving or preventing identified cases, 4) participating to chosen interventions, and 5) managing the SOS-Network project itself.


The word "case" is borrowed from epidemiology, and it refers here to each occurrence of a specific type of suffering. It refers also sometimes to the person who undergoes that suffering. SOS-Network seeks to identify cases of suffering which are at the same time 1) extremely severe, 2) avoidable, and 3) not taken in charge.

1) Extremely severe. A suffering or a pain is a complex event whose severity may depend on many factors related to it, like affects, sensations, emotions, the nature of its causes, the extent of damages... For SOS-Network, however, the severity of a case depends on a single factor : the degree of aversion that is involved. Aversion is what constitutes the aspect that is typically unpleasant, painful or obnoxious in the affect experienced by an individual. Generally, in front of a perceived suffering, the subject or the observers are able to estimate with an adequate precision the aversion degree on a scale from 0 to 10. Let us agree that cases which are of concern to SOS-Network are those where aversive intensity, for any length of time, reaches the 10th level, namely is unbearable to the point of evoking a wish to die in the suffering individual.

2) Avoidable. Let us agree that an extremely severe case of suffering is avoidable if, according to SOS-Network, there exists an individual or a group who has enough resources (including motivation, which can be considered as a kind of resource) to resolve or prevent that case at a cost (material, moral, social...) deemed to be acceptable.

3) Not taken in charge. Let us agree that an extremely severe and avoidable case of suffering is not taken in charge if no individual or group except SOS-Network is effectively working to prevent this case from going on or from happening.


People who collaborate to SOS-Network are resources, together with what they contribute materially or otherwise. Here is, for information only, a list of goods and services they could provide during interventions :

1) in favor of individuals who undergo or could undergo excessive suffering : specialized services (medical, legal...), non specialized services (moral support...), goods (money, food...);

2) in favor of people who help those individuals : specialized services (logistic support, accounting, writing...), non specialized services (manual work, clerical work, public relation work, support demonstrations, help in finding human or financial or material resources...), goods (money, supplies...);

3) against people who are harmful to those individuals : specialized services (legal, security...), non specialized services (protest demonstrations, boycott...).

(To be continued...)



Greetings! My name is Robert Daoust. SOS-Network is a practical action project which was thought up during personal research on the phenomenon of unpleasantness. Basically, the SOS-Network idea consists in creating a "universal complementary rescue system" to make sure that every rescue which is at once possible and badly needed is performed : it consists in implementing a systematic series of rescue interventions in favor of needy individuals for the deliberate purpose of reducing and maintaining at zero, in the world, the number of unjustifiable cases of great suffering which are avoidable, at a reasonable cost, but which will not actually be avoided by any action other than one by SOS-Network. This basic idea includes in particular a new notion of measurement that calls for counting each needy individual as one case. The project could unfold in different ways. The best, seemingly, is to entrust the task of exercising judgement about what is unjustifiable, avoidable, complementary, etc., to people who will take part to the initial intervention and then to the interventions that will follow. Thus, the project will gradually unfold, and it will become easier to describe or to understand its nature and its value.


First SOS-Network Intervention

Montreal, the 20th of January 2003 I am Robert Daoust and I want to realize an SOS-Network intervention. How should I proceed? I must find an individual that I will rescue. The most simple intervention I can think of would be to buy and eat a chicken which was produced without too much cruelty. Let me try this idea, and if it is not appropriate, I'll try another one. First, I must make clear that my next purchase of chicken would normally be done at the expense of an animal which suffered greatly and unjustifiably. Then, I have to find and use a chicken that was produced acceptably. Finally, I must register formally my intervention, providing among other things the identity of the rescued animal : its identity will be only formal, necessarily, but it may nevertheless be considered as real.

(To be continued... : see French version SOS-réseau)

Robert Daoust

French translation of this document: SOS-Réseaux

Last modification : 2010/01/29