What do you think?
It seems that a lot of us are going through a big wave of suffering right now, related to the political situation we've found ourselves in. It's tough to see that things aren't going our way, and it's heartbreaking when people and the earth we care about are undergoing unnecessary and cruel punishment. Add to that that thousands of us are also experiencing a political awakening, waking up from our apathy and un-involvement. Taking an interest in the world and current events in a way we've never done before, realizing that disengagement is no longer an option- that we can't create the world we want without being involved in that making. It's a hands-on operation.
The downside to that radical shift in our attention is that, in paying attention to what's going on in the world, we're also taking a whole boatload of suffering into our awareness. We always knew it was there, lurking on the periphery of our attention. But now we're reading about it in a much more vigorous fashion. We need to actually understand what's going on. For me, that's meant learning things I'd rather not know. It's painful to me to learn that there's a new famine brewing in Africa that will likely kill thousands, many of whom children. Or to really look at what's been happening in Syria for the past seven years. And of course it's horrifying to learn of immigrants being torn from their family members here in America to be deported.
It's exhausting to learn about all these things, and it's saddening. There's a weight on our hearts. It's important to acknowledge that weight, the sadness, exhaustion. We can't keep our balance and we can't give ourselves the proper care to go on fighting for what we care about, without first acknowledging what ails us. Just like with any prescription, we need a diagnosis first.
So what is that prescription, what do our hearts require? For me, as for so many, this question has led me to question the nature of suffering itself. Why do we suffer? What's the purpose? Why did God build suffering into the equation of life on earth? Is it just to instill a craving for something better, to motivate us toward good behavior in the hopes of achieving a better existence in an afterlife or new incarnation? We know that every single celled organism knows to avoid pain and seek pleasure and that's no different for us. Perhaps the Almighty built suffering into our mechanism, knowing it would push us to seek liberation, higher ground.
When I feel the deep deep weariness and sadness inside, I turn to prayer, my conversation with God. And in it I ask, "Is this the only way? Couldn't you have found some other way, gentler, to move us forward, to drive us toward the light, to you? Why so much pain?"
In the silence that follows, I listen for an answer but expect none. For now, I think the questioning is probably enough. The answers we do have regarding suffering are maybe enough for right now: That suffering ourselves makes us more compassionate to others, and in that feeling we become anti-suffering agents (ASA). With compassion, we have the power to help eliminate suffering in the world and for the earth. But we can't do that without knowing who is suffering and where. It's up to us to stay informed, to keep track of what's at stake, but also to track our own well-being and our own suffering, so we can keep ourselves in balance and on point to do our work here as ASA.
That's all for now. What are your thoughts?