Only posts tagged with: Suffering | Display all
Dec. 16, 2012, at 10:12pm
Sometimes a piece of writing seems all set to go. You’ve wrestled it into shape: you’re not altogether satisfied, but it’s probably good enough, and anyway, the deadline is here.
But you keep sensing the very inconvenient need to file it away, start again from scratch, and address something else altogether.
That happened when our friend, Peter, died—I realized how pointless it was to try to write anything but a tribute to him. Something similar happened today.
Here it is, Gaudete Sunday. That means we’re commanded to rejoice. Not just encouraged, but commanded (gaudete: plural imperative).
That seems surprising, because sometimes the Good News is presented in a deformed state, and …continue reading
May. 21, 2012, at 10:21am
A fourth option for dealing with the miseries and pains of life is that of genuine hope. How does this differ from mere optimism? How does is compare to pessimism? Well, it is an attempt to face the evils of life realistically while not succumbing to them as the last word (vs. pessimism); but, in order to do so, hope must break the bounds of just this world of space and time (vs. mere optimism) where “death comes as the end.” Hope must find a genuine foundation on which to acknowledge misery without despair, but rather with a realistic possibility of breaking through to genuine happiness.
That true foundation is ultimately the power and goodness of God; therefore, hope is based on …continue reading
May. 13, 2012, at 6:58pm
Pessimism is an attempt at an “honest” solution to the problem of the miseries of life. It tries to face squarely the reality of evil, pain, death, change, catastrophe, etc., and then offers a way to shield oneself from these inevitable facts of life by steeling oneself against them, not letting oneself be touched by them, by showing an enduring toughness and self-sufficiency in accepting them. It espouses only a negative definition of happiness, relief from misery, without any positive components. The problem with all this “realism” and “honesty” is the underlying assumption that evil, pain, and misery ultimately win out in life and in being. But is this true? Is it honest? Is it …continue reading
May. 7, 2012, at 11:18am
Another way of trying to deal with the miseries of life involves an attitude that may be termed “earthly optimism.” It some ways it is a more formalized type of escapism, but now developed into theory of life, either on a popular or on a more sophisticated intellectual level.
On the popular level, we might term this a “Pollyanna” attitude, though I don’t mean thereby to make a judgment about Disney’s 1960 movie of the same name. (Like every other red-blooded American 10-to-15-year-old male of my generation, I fell deeply in love with Hayley Mills after seeing that movie, rivaling even my devotion to Annette Funicello. So I do not mean to tread on anyone’s sacred memories here!) …continue reading
Apr. 29, 2012, at 4:18pm
One technique for handling life’s pains and miseries is simply to run from them, to try to distract oneself from the dark side of life and thus not really face the problem. This is, admittedly, not really even an attempt at a “solution” or an answer, but it can allow the individual to go on functioning day-to-day in practical terms.
This can be done with drugs or alcohol, trying to blot out the pain or threat and blissfully overcome it with the aid of artificial stimulants. Another version of this would be trying to “drown one’s sorrows” in the face a particular source of unhappiness or a general weariness or disgust with life. This is often the theme of country songs, e.g. Hank William’s …continue reading
Apr. 10, 2010, at 11:50am
Is there another country whose sufferings compare with Poland’s over the last centuries? No doubt there are some whose sufferings have been as bad or worse in terms of loss of life, and by other measures too. But I refer to the marked spiritual dimension to her particular sufferings. They seem almost personal—almost as if they were deliberately directed at her identity as a nation. And they are imposed on her from without, not self-inflicted, as in Russia or Rwanda.
I am thinking of the partitions, the Nazi occupation, swiftly followed by the Soviet occupation; the Warsaw uprising and its aftermath, Auschwitz, the Katyn Forest Massacre, and now the terrible, terrible news today.