Molly was a good dog and as you can see, well loved. We didn’t expect her to make it through the night and the kids were saying goodbye. Although this was several years ago, I’ve been thinking about pain today. I made the mistake of watching the video on the news of the eight teenagers that beat up a girl and video taped it. I couldn’t finish it. How can people be so cruel? This type of things weighs me down. In addition, two people I care about are in a lot of emotional pain right now and I hurt for both of them. At least that type doesn’t weigh me down like the other example. Pain caused by love hurts but pain caused by cruelty is toxic.
I grew up with the teaching that we live in the “lone and dreary world.” Religion often teaches that this life is the test and the good stuff comes later if you pass. A core Buddhist philosophy is that “life is suffering.” Birth is suffering, death leaves a wake of pain, and in between is more sorrow than sometimes seams bearable. But what would I be without pain? My pain has carved and forged me into the person I am today and for the most part, I like who I am. I wouldn’t trade my pain. But the thought of future pain scares me and sometimes I hold myself back because I’m afraid of what is around the next corner.
I can’t bring myself to welcome pain, but I try not to be so afraid of it. Whether I’m rock climbing or dealing with emotional issues, it’s a fear of pain that limits me. And after it hits, I dwell on it too much…thinking and mourning to the extent that I often struggle to learn and move forward (because I want to figure out what I can do to avoid it). Pain will always be there…my teacher and tormentor.
Where I really get in trouble is when somebody I care about is suffering. It’s been said that most mental disorders are caused by either taking too much responsibility or not enough. When my kids are suffering it’s hard not to jump in and do everything I can to sooth them. It’s pretty selfish to take their life lessons away only because I don’t want to have to watch them suffer. It seems like I often get it wrong…I either don’t take enough responsibility or jump in too much. But I have great kids, so I suppose I must be doing something right.
I have been lucky and very little of my pain comes from cruelty. I can’t imagine the damage inflicted by a horrible act like I saw on that video. Any pain can destroy a person, but that type creates monsters. Malicious physical and verbal abuse are seeds of destruction. They can make people callous and apathetic. I try and imagine what horrible things a truly mean person must have experienced to drive out all compassion and decency. If we trace back acts of cruelty we might see a history that goes back for generations. Maybe every act of cruelty, neglect, and unkindness carries forward. Maybe people who do these things are only “bad” because they were once on the receiving end.I suppose the way to change it is twofold. We feel our pain, learn from it, and move on. We forgive and kill the negative energy and pass on positive energy instead. Of course, isn’t that what nearly every religion teaches? Yet religion is the base of pretty much every war we’ve seen throughout history. What in the hell is wrong with us?
Maybe at some core level the human race longs for drama, pain, and destruction. That sounds like a blockbuster movie. Maybe we all want it more than we can consciously admit. We watch it on the news, we read about it in books, we gossip about it to our friends. Maybe our world would just be too boring without bullies. Maybe the media has helped warp us. I used a picture of three kids and a dying puppy to tell you that. I hope you feel as cheated as I do.