Rose: “You should never have come here. Father Cornello gave us hope. What right did you have to take that away? With him we believed we could do anything, even bring back the dead. We’re a desert village! We had nothing before that!”
Ed: “You’re saying we should have just let everything go on as it was?”
Rose: “Well, why not? What do I have to live for now that I know Cain won’t come back?! You tell me that, Ed!”
Ed: “You’ll have to decide for yourself. Walk on your own. Move forward. You’ve got a good, strong pair of legs, Rose. You should get up and use ‘em.”
~Edward Elric and Rose, from Fullmetal Alchemist
This quote brings up two unrelated, yet very important ideas. The first one calls into question the morality of doing something to help people who are perfectly happy with the way things are. One the one hand, you have the person who wants to help, who knows the reality of the situation, and who sticks their nose in, thinking they know better than the people who the situation actually concerns. On the other hand, the people involved don’t know the reality of their situation, and are truly happy because of it. They would likely live much, if not all, of their lives in happiness, despite the truth of the situation.
Given that, what right does an outsider have to interfere with the situation, even if they think it’s for the benefit of those involved? I’m not sure there’s a single answer, let alone a simple one. One thing that’s clearly important, though (which I think is really the bit of wisdom here), is that you have to keep your ego out of it. Especially when the situation doesn’t involve you, you have to reason through it dispassionately. You’re doing this for someone else. You need to consider what’s truly best for them, not what you think is best for them.
The second idea this quote brings up is that of living for yourself, for your own happiness, and not basing that happiness on external people or things. This isn’t advocating for extreme selfishness. Rather, what it means is that you should live your life for yourself first, and for others second. If you live primarily for others, and someday they’re gone, what are you going to do? A huge piece of your life just collapsed from beneath your feet because of something that was completely out of your hands. You have to find your own intrinsic purpose and motivations that you can hold on to, even if the things around you crumble.