_I regret being born, but I don’t regret being alive. On some level this might be a contradiction, but ultimately I don’t think so. Being born is the act of being brought into the world as a living thing. Living things will inevitably suffer, and we can prevent this from preventing them birth (non-existent people do not suffer from not existing) and therefore any potential pain. Being alive however is simply the biological condition of being able to experience pleasure or pain. It is inherently neither good nor bad because though it is necessary to experience either, neither are not necessarily attached to any moment of a living being’s existence. There are moments of life where we are in pain; those moments are bad. And there are moments where we feel great pleasant experiences and sensations such as pleasure, joy and serenity; these moments are good.
Ethics is nothing more than the understanding of these basic logical truths combined with the secondary facts of our existence (e.g. scientific laws, traits of psychology, political economy, etc) or rather how they apply to that which has significance in its own right – the existence of pain. Morality is negative in character; that is to say, it is something that describes the importance of a removal of something (pain) rather than any specific state of affairs in our Universe – that would be a description of positive ethics.
Though there is much that is bad life, that is to say, though it is true that there is much suffering we will inevitably experience, we should remember that things are all only bad to the extent that things cause or depict an unpleasant situation. When we remove ourselves from our lives and remember the insignificance of most things and that attaining anything (the things we want to attain a pleasurable state) is not of primary significance, that instead being pain-free is what is of significance we can be happy. We can, at-least momentarily, relinquish the ego and remember that we are pain-free (strangely enough becoming so by reminding ourselves that we are) and that this is (this and that others are pain-free) all that matters – and this can make us happy.
Life is very bad. But given the right circumstances, and the right frame of mind, it can be made good. And once again, life being good is only truly good to the extent that it is not bad. We should value our lives not by what we have but by how much we were and are spared. I was spared a great deal, and though I will inevitably selfishly focus on hedonistic impulses at times it is my wish to help others be spared the horrors of this existence to the extent I can. The most absolute way of doing this is by not giving birth to more beings who will without a doubt suffer without excuse. The next is by allowing those who wish to end their pain by ending their lives to do so and by changing the general culture’s view on suicide – it is only from faulty reason that there are those who suffer from someone no longer suffering. After that there is aiding the living to the extent that we can. This involves the realms of psychology, public policy, philosophy and all realms of knowledge and life that impact a being capable of feeling pain (including most animals) to the extent that said knowledge and actions can reduce or relinquish their suffering. To act in this manner is what is meant by being ethical. It is to act for the benefit of others (their greatest benefit being not being in pain) rather than following our evolutionary impulse to be egotistical (we can only experience our own sensations) and hedonistic. And though we have an evolutionary impulse to be selfish, we also have the evolutionary impulse to be compassionate and considerate of others. We can practice and promote one to see an increase of the one over the other; for as Aristotle mentions much of virtue has to do with habituation.