Pain Hurts More When It Feels Meaningless – Philosophy Essay
“All life involves suffering,” the First Noble Truth of Buddhism. Can anyone in this world deny that they’ve suffered? I can’t. Everyone suffers but it is how we deal with our suffering that makes the difference.
Sometimes bad things happen in our lives and most of the time “for no reason (Job 8).” I find it hard to believe in a good and powerful “God” that would allow bad things to happen to the good, and especially for no reason. “…God has tricked me, and lured me into his trap. I call but there is no answer; I cry out, and where is justice (Job 48)?” If there is a God I don’t think he is either good or all powerful. For me it is easier to think of there being something else in the world that is more powerful than God, or that there just isn’t a God, than to believe in a God that would let young children be rapped and killed, allow slavery, or let there be a world in which some people live in castles and others die of starvation.
“You said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto me, and harm them not.’ …You let them go wanting, sit on road shoulders, crying next to their dead mothers. I’ve seen them charred, lame, halt. You forgot, Lord. You forgot how and when to be God (TM 181).”
How can a good God allow this to happen? In The Bluest Eye Pecola, being an eleven year old girl with few friends, and not a very loving home, was rapped by her father. Why? Would a good and all powerful God allow this to happen? I don’t think so, I think it is easier to believe in a God who isn’t good, than to believe in a God that would allow this to happen.
Kushner asks us, “Can suffering be educational (Kush 19)?” I suppose in a way it could be, but what did Pecola have to learn? What did Kushner’s own son, dying so young, have to learn? Or is the suffering so those around them can learn something? And is it even possible to justify a young child being rapped or dying so others can learn something? I can’t believe in a God that would allow that to happen. I learn that our children need to be protected, to be loved, but is that lesson worth all the pain?
“I’d rather suffer every unspeakable suffering God sends, knowing that it was I that suffered, I that earned the need to suffer (JB 123).” J.B. would suffer everything God wanted him to suffer if he just knew that he deserved to suffer, that he did something to cause the suffering. But he wouldn’t want someone else, like a young child, to suffer because of him, or for him to learn from it. I feel the same way. If I did something to deserve the suffering then so be it, but don’t let a young child suffer on my behalf when they are so innocent.
There is a song by the band Good Charlotte, and some of the lyrics go; “But we all bleed the same way as you do. And we all have the same things to go through. Hold on if you feel like letting go. Hold on it gets better than you know. Don’t stop looking, you’re one step closer. Don’t stop searching, it’s not over.” It always makes me think about how we all suffer, there is no one who doesn’t, we need support of others to remind us that we can hold on, that one day it won’t hurt so much, and we don’t suffer alone. But we need to keep searching for what it is that is making us hurt so we can face it and maybe relieve it.
I think this relates a lot to what Thich Nhat Hanh tells us about the Buddha. “We must, first of all, recognize that we are suffering and then determine whether its basis is physical, physiological, or psychological. Our suffering needs to be identified (TNH 29).” “Do we need to name our sins to know the need to be forgiven (JB 125)?” Do we need to know the reason for our suffering in order to eliminate it? To be able to deal with our suffering, we have to identify our suffering, know why in order to get it out of our hearts and lives.
In The Book of Job there is a quote that has always stuck with me, “Can’t he tell right from wrong or keep his accounts in order (Job 73)?” This fits so well with When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Can God not keep track of who in this world is good and should be taken care of, and those that are bad and should be punished? “…because God is a righteous judge who gives them exactly what they deserve (Kush 9).” But did Pecola deserve to be rapped? Did Rabbi Kushner’s son deserve to die at such a young age? Did Lupe, in One Day of Life, deserve to have her family killed because they were fighting for their rights? What could a young, innocent, child do to deserve such a terrible incident, and death? When people are fighting to be free, to live with equal rights, do they deserve to be killed?
These are questions I ask myself almost every day, and I can’t answer them. Not without contradicting everything I have ever been taught about God. That God is all powerful, that God is good and just. But if God is good and loving then why do the good suffer? And if God is all powerful, than why do he allow the good suffer? If there is free will in our lives and God doesn’t want to change that then is he really good if he would let his children suffer? If he is all powerful than is he a good God if he chooses not to stop the suffering?
“God has a pattern into which all of our lives fit. His pattern requires that some lives be twisted, knotted, or cut short, while others extend to impressive lengths, not because one thread is more deserving than another, but simply because the pattern requires it (Kush 18).” But this pattern still wouldn’t work, because if God was good then why would he create a pattern in which people suffered for no reason? Ever since I was really able to think for myself I have struggled with so many of these questions. Even know I still can’t really answer them.
“I heard upon his dry dung heap that man cry out who cannot sleep: ‘If God is God he is not good, if God is good he is not God (JB 11).” How can you get more specific than this? It is perfect in explaining God. If he is God than he is not good if he allows all the suffering to occur and if he is good he’s not God, not all powerful, if he can’t stop the suffering.
“Thinking is the speech of our mind. Right Thinking makes our speech clear and beneficial. Because thinking often leads to action, Right Thinking is needed to take us down the path of Right Action (TNH 59).” In order to deal with the suffering around us we need to have the right thoughts about it to be able to act and deal with the suffering in our lives.
There is a story about a family with a young boy, who had to have there sick dog put to sleep. They decided to have their son present with them when the dog was put down. Afraid he would be sad and not understand they asked him how he felt about his dog dying. He responded, “God put people on earth to learn how to love, be kind, and treat people good. Dogs already know how to do this so they don’t have to live as long.”
Thich Nhat Hanh tells us, “When you practice Right View and Right Thinking, you dwell deeply in the present moment, where you can touch seeds of joy, peace, and liberation, heal and transform your suffering, and be truly present for many others (TNH 63).” I think this story fits great with Thich Nhat Hanh in that if you can get past all the suffering than there is joy, peace, happiness, and love in our lives. We can realize that if we think rightly and we can be happy, even if there has been suffering.
J.B. says it, “We have no choice but to be guilty. God is unthinkable if we are innocent (JB 111).” For me God is unthinkable, how can I believe in a God that would allow good, innocent people to suffer? To deal with the suffering in my life I now believe that if there is a God he isn’t all powerful, and that he isn’t good. He is a God that created man, created this world, and just lets us be. Watching from afar, almost like a movie. In the end we are not judge upon our beliefs and understandings, but on how we deal with the problems and suffering in our lives, and how we choose to live. If we can realize that ALL life involves suffering, and find a way to deal with it to help ourselves and others than we have succeeded in life. I have a quote from class, and I don’t remember where it is from but it is, “the meaning doesn’t lie in the event itself but in our response to it.” How we respond and deal with our suffering is what matters, not the events that caused our suffering.
“Pain hurts more when it feels meaningless.” What this class is all about. I don’t know if I could ever think that people suffer for a reason, that there is meaning to anyone’s suffering; that someone deserves to suffer. Is it possible to do something so evil when you are eleven that you deserve to be rapped by your father? Is it possible to have done something so evil, even before you are born, to deserve being born with a terrible disease? What is the possible meaning to this suffering? What good could possibly come out of this for them that would cause them to stop suffering? What meaning is there to find out of being rapped by your father? Pain is pain; it is going to hurt. I don’t think it is always possible to find meaning in our suffering.
Life is full of pain and suffering. That is just the way it is. To believe in a God that is good and all powerful isn’t possible. If he was good he wouldn’t allow all the suffering in to world for no reason. If he was all powerful he should stop the suffering. God is an unthinkable God because he is not all powerful and isn’t good. There is suffering in the world because others cause our suffering, but instead of increasing the suffering in the world we need to try and eliminate ours by realizing that pain is a fact of life, there is no changing it.