Here's the problem. I'll paraphrase the lead to make clear the proposition defined by William James (1842-1910)
[If we were offered] "a world in which millions were kept permanently happy on the one simple condition that a certain lost soul on the far-off edge of things should lead a life of lonely torture, what except a sceptical and independent sort of emotion can it be which would make us immediately feel, even though an impulse arose within us to clutch at the happiness so offered, how hideous a thing would be its enjoyment when deliberately accepted as the fruit of such a bargain?" William James: The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life.
Do most of you know this story? The bargain James describes is essentially the 'plot' of a story by Ursula K. Leguin, "The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas" (1973). Omelas is Eden, utopia, an ideally peaceful place where the citizens are happy and apparently need no laws or governance to keep them so. Their well-being, it turns out, is dependent on the incarceration, subjugation, wretched condition and all-round misery of a child deprived of a decent life for the sake of the others. The people accept this or else - a few of them - walk away from Omelas.
William James offers help. The American psychologist who many regard as the leading American philosopher of the 19th century, said you should essentially choose how you feel, how you react to the circumstances of your life. "The greatest weapon against stress," he said, "is our ability to choose one thought over another." It's also what enables you to walk past a hungry beggar on the street.
I try not to think too much, especially when I'm eating chicken. I used to believe that penguins lead a pretty dreary life until I read about the chicken industry. The treatment of chickens is (almost) enough to turn me into a vegetarian. I'm getting closer all the time.