Saturday, March 4, 2023


No one wants to suffer. Our Lord prayed in Gethsemane: "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me...." Suffering has been a part of the human experience since the beginning of time and reducing it has almost always been a goal.  Katherine Boyle argues that "the war on pain has not only robbed us of resilience. It has sold us a mirage that is making us miserable."
.... It is not a coincidence that the modern campaign to eradicate suffering commenced just as religiosity in general and Christianity in particular began to decline at a rapid pace in America. There is no religion that doesn’t embrace suffering as integral to its teaching. Christianity deified it, with adherents wearing a symbol of torture as a symbol of their belief. Buddhism declares suffering its First Noble Truth. Stoicism acknowledges suffering while rejecting its dominance, and modern philosophers such as Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote, “If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering.”

Many of these ancient beliefs are being replaced with piecemeal spirituality, or what Ross Douthat recently described as “magical thinking,” which is not inclined to acknowledge the need for suffering as a redemptive or meaningful part of life.

The real question, then, is why our attempt to eradicate suffering isn’t working. Most of our modern culture wars are waged in the name of harm reduction, safetyism, and relief from the mildest form of suffering—once referred to as adversity. With so much focus on comfort and safety, why aren’t we . . . happier? ....

We have long been fully invested in eradicating the suffering we deem unconscionable, but more important are the simple questions that define a serious life: For whom will you sacrifice? What will you defend? For what will you choose to suffer?
Katherine Boyle, "Get Serious: About Suffering," The Free Press, March 4, 2023.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.