Suffering

The other day, I heard a little old lady tell a crowd of sexual assault victims, “You were not put on this earth to suffer.” It reminded me of a line from the book I’ve been reading, Strangers Drowning, about morality.

“Some think that suffering is pointless and wish it could be eliminated; others believe it makes compassion possible and is at the core of the human condition.”

I used to believe the former, used to wish no one had to endure the pain of suffering…I guess I still do, when I see it. But you can’t wish away suffering, it will always be, and if it breeds compassion, it is all worth it.

Jack Gilbert says it best:

A Brief For The Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Some truths

Some truths:
1) You are not just who you are when you are who you want to be – you are also who you are when you are who you do not want to be.
2) If you are rationalizing something, you’re about to make a bad decision. You don’t need to rationalize a good decision.
3) It is not weak to admit that you can’t handle something. It is weak to fail to learn from your mistakes and pretend that you can and continuously make the wrong decision.
4) Apathy is the biggest killer of man.
5) If we don’t fight for each other we will never all be free.
6) Gentle, appropriate pressure over time yields results.

Some truths from Rumi:
1) Set yourself on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.
2) If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?
3) Be empty of worrying, think of who created thought!
4) Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?

When we were little kids, we all wanted to save the world.

(Some thoughts)

You know, when we were little kids, we all wanted to save the world. Almost every little boy or girl envisions themselves in these grand scenarios where they get to save mankind from the villains. Where good triumphs over evil. But then we grow up, and the bad guys don’t look anything like the Joker, and the battles against evil don’t look anything like the epic, building-smashing, super-powered fights that our heroes always won. We grow up, and we grow to understand that the world is nothing like we imagined, but that it is indeed full of evil.

As adults, we become defeated, apathetic. What we don’t see is that nothing has changed. Why should we stop wanting to fight the evils of the world, why should we stop fighting for peace and justice, just because it isn’t as simple or as fun as sucker punching Dr. Octopus right in the face?

I believe in good. I believe in the good of humankind. And I know that apathy is the biggest killer of man. We can make the world a better place.