Pain is an absolute, an unavoidable enemy which looms over us every day. Its inevitable to experience it and , when we do our first reaction is to numb it or cheat it. It’s been on this ancient planet for millions of years. We humans know what suffering is all too well. Our lonely planet slides across the universe quietly without a sound at first glance , but if you listen closer you can hear the entropic screams of injustice, suffering, and violence. Death is always around the corner yet we are taken by surprise by it. It stalks us in our sleep, waiting for our protections to melt, and when they do its there with its velvet paws. We distract our selves with trivial objects and sometimes even concoct potions and shoot it in our blood stream to detach from it.
But I have a question; Is pain really the enemy? And isn’t pain a process in which one is made stronger? And if it is, than why do we love to avoid the process?
While I’m mostly eluding to emotional pain, I think this truth is directly related to physical pain as well. Pain works as an alarm system to the body, pointing the victim to the reality of danger. While pain is important it would be quite absurd to hold pain to a higher importance in the presence of a broken ankle or symptoms of a heart attack. Having said that, we should conclude that pain is indispensable because it is the vehicle in which a damaged part of the body is discovered.
Ask a weightlifter how he got so strong, he will tell you, ”I suffered.” Ask a runner how he got so fast, he will tell you ”I suffered.”
We cannot run from pain. Any great civilization that runs from suffering has begun it’s demise. Look as far back as you want: Babylon, Greece, Rome, or the British Empire, you’ll find that the reason for every great civilizations demise is rooted in it’s attempt to cheat pain. If we’re not careful we will follow quickly down in our self-absorbed disregard towards suffering. We ignore the suffering on the street when we’re in line for an over priced coffee. We ignore the suffering overseas for a cheap pair of sneakers. We try to cheat suffering with technology, with medicine, with economic bandages. But greatness does not come from ignorance of pain. Greatness comes from wrestling with pain, wresting with the injustices of the world. You cannot cheat death. Suffering will find you. Pain will find you. Death will find you. Do not run from suffering, how else could character form? Yes, suffering forms character, suffering forms patience, suffering forms perseverance, joy, grace- all these beautiful parts of a human soul that cannot come into being any other way in this life.
No, no- you see, suffering is not the enemy. Sure it hurts. It hurts a lot sometimes. But so does giving birth. So does playing football. So does growing up. In this life, my friend, do not run from suffering. You’ll be running from yourself.