Monday, 31 December 2007

Not the mystery of suffering

I don't believe in the mystery of suffering. I do believe in raging and campaigning against suffering; listening and simply being with those who are suffering - when and if that's possible. Talk about the "mystery" of suffering often belies some strange religious idea that suffering is good for us, redemptive or "God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world".
Life without suffering is not possible, nor is it life. Of course we search for reasons when difficult or even terrible things happen, but imbuing those things with dubious religious meaning doesn't do humanity much good.
These reflections come courtesy of my wintertime tonsilitus, which was painful and left me rather delirious with fever for a while and worried for a while longer. For people with MS, fever and viral overload increase the risk of the scar tissue (or plaques) in the brain or spinal cord inflaming to cause (in my case) some temporary paralysis. The most difficult part of this for me is learning to be a little bit good and accept it wouldn't be a good idea to go and see another several hundred people in the freezing cold tonight. So far no problems - phew. However, dealing with these issues does not make more holy, nor give me a more direct line to God. And when I'm in pain it's not been redemptive so far - more likely to be peppered with rather more tears and swearing than usual.
Meanwhile in many, many parts of the world far too many people don't even have access to paracetemal or asprin to calm ordinary aches and pains, let alone clean water to take decent, free medecine with. Surely their unnecessary suffering calls us to act for more justice, more equity and more sharing and not to meditate a dubious mystery. Something to ponder and act on in the new year maybe.