Since I wrote the post called “Suffering Is“, I’ve been pondering my own ponderings. In that post I suggested that, to be fully alive, we must embrace the reality of suffering and incorporate it into the life-journey. Otherwise, we spend our energy navigating around suffering instead of being present to what is. I still think that is true. But what sufferings should we try to eliminate?
It would be preposterous to argue that all suffering just “is” and that we should incorporate it wholesale into our lives. For example, to turn a blind eye to oppression, abuse, or other cruelty is to join the abusers and darken our own hearts. Sufferings of this order present an interesting paradox. As the sufferer, the task is to own the suffering without trying to psychologically escape while at the same time stand against the suffering and call for a better day. As the witness of suffering, we must act against it and participate in the creation of something better and more humane, for if we don’t, then we are cruel and our own hearts harden and deteriorate. For example, to suffer within a concentration camp is a moment by moment call to keep one’s heart present and alive, to perpetrate a concentration camp is to embody evil, and to know of a concentration camp and do nothing is to collaborate with evil.