To Suffer, or Not to Suffer

That’s not really the question in #FPQ141 but it hangs close enough to title it as such. At least from my perspective.

His question, as a direct quote, is:

Do you agree that human suffering can be beneficial and that suffering is a necessary part of the human condition? Why or why not?

Fandango 2021 #FPQ141

Maybe I should take the words ‘human suffering’ to mean as a species-wide question. Maybe not. But if I add the condition as necessary to be human, it creates a very definite world- and species-wide question.

Should human beings suffer to prove the condition of being human?

And I travel back to the times we lived in caves and feared all the monsters beyond the opening. The questions then would have been related to survival.

Will we eat today? Will we be eaten today? Will the marauding tribe from over the hill leave their ravaged lands and invade us here? Will the pregnant woman die in childbirth? Will her screams bring predators to our sanctuary?

There’d be plenty more, but in the end, the suffering they endured was about survival.

Does that apply to what we suffer today?

First, I have to ask what it is we suffer. Is it specific, such as physical suffering, psychological, financial, social, etc., or is it the broad concept of suffering?

As a writer, I make my characters suffer. Why do I do that?

Because through the pain of suffering for a purpose we lose layers of built-up preconceptions, silly mannerisms, delusions of a wide variety, and all in order to see a life we can claim as our own.

That’s one way to look at it, but there’s also the survival aspect, even today. We, as a general human condition, see enemies everywhere. Anyone who presents a potential threat to what we perceive as ‘ours’ or ‘not theirs’ is ‘other’, an enemy, a risk to not only the status quo but also to the continuation of our genes.

Blood is thicker, they say, but is that the blood we spill with hatred and difference, or is it the blood of a defined genetic pool?

Genetics? Yes, it plays a part. We suffer in order to continue as human beings, to leave our mark on the world — the children we produce. Our product that takes our future into a further stage of humanity.

And yet, if we look far enough back, we all came from the same water-hole, we all begin with the genetic profile of our original mother, a sister to the mothers of all those we call ‘other’.

Must we continue to suffer this differentiating of humanity in order to feel a sense of belonging?

It appears we must continue to suffer, to change, to forge forward into an unknown world, with unknown monsters, and to do this we must continually seek to move forward.

Image from Pixabay

Or stagnate. But to remain still is to atrophy, to fade from the dynamic trade that is life.

Do we need to suffer? Are we still cave men with lizard minds? (Don’t take the cave man to mean there are no women; I’m using the shortened version of ‘hu’man because without women, there would be no men at all, would there?)

It appears so, and in order to get that genetic change, we move forward and suffer the effects of change and difference in order to realign how we are in the present moment to what we think we should be.

Well, I hope that’s the way we see it. I want that to be why we suffer as human beings — to grow, learn, adapt and survive as a whole, together, for a purpose.

But … but-but-but …

Still? In this modern age, do we still need to suffer?

Maybe I should mention climate change. It’s a thing, and it’s been discussed as a serious issue since I was a kid (that’s a while, in case you’re wondering — think the 60s era, hippies and stuff, world peace, clean world, etc.)

Image from Pixabay

Climate change brings the issue of survival to the fore. Will humans survive without changes to ensure the survival of the planet? Will we believe the risks of climate change if we don’t suffer some of the early and catastrophic consequences?

My answer: we won’t take the risk seriously until we feel the pain and suffering it will inflict on our children, and their children, on our future as a species.

And when the children are leading the charge, we know we’re seeing the consequences of inaction, and need to act in order to surivive.

Image from Pixabay

If there are any typos or stuff like that, it’s because it’s an off-the-cuff post, and now my hands hurt, so that’s enough from me and I’m going back to the couch to watch the storm rolling over — love a good storm!

11 thoughts on “To Suffer, or Not to Suffer

  1. Unfortunately you’re right, Cage. While climate change is already causing suffering around the globe, we still don’t take the risks seriously enough, and, as a society, won’t until the rich, powerful, and greedy experience the suffering first hand, and by that time, it may be too late to save humanity. Thanks for your thoughtful response. I hope your hands don’t hurt too badly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not a new discussion. I’ve read essays from Circa 1800 that discuss the dangers of changing the natural state of the world and how it will harm our future — maybe we, as human beings, find it hard to see too far ahead. Maybe we think someone will come along who can fix things. In the end, though, we act only when threatened by imminent danger to those close to our bloodline.

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  2. Honestly? I don’t think we need to suffer at all. Suffering narrows the mind. If we’re reduced to the point of ‘will we eat today?’, I dont’ think there’s any room or energy left over to be creative. That said, I think we do need to be challenged to avert suffering, avoid it – e.g. with climate action.

    Or maybe this is simply how my one, individual little mind works. 😉

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  3. Depends on your definition of ‘suffering’, I suppose.
    The ‘human condition’ is nothing of the sort, its the result of millennia of a power imbalance between the have’s and the have-not’s. So yes, from a certain point of view, ‘suffering’ must happen in order for the ‘haves’ to stay right where they are. But it’s not who we really are as a species. Or rather, what we could be, as a species. (if we get through the next handful of decades alive, that is)
    We have challenges and struggles, and grief, and all sorts of nasty stuff to get through if we’re to die in our sleep well past four-core-years-and-ten, but if we have the ability to see our choices clearly, all of us, at the same time, then who knows what might happen. Certainly not more suffering. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • agree completely, but how do we get the whole population to see the choices clearly at the same time, and without the influence of those who seek ‘more’ to have/be more than others?

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