Tuesday, 17 June 2008
A lovely-sounding person left a comment on my blog which said, 'I'm finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that there's so much unhappiness in the world.' I understand that completely. Over the last three years my main emotion has been outrage. Again and again I find myself unable to come to terms with the amount of suffering there is all around me. But the question is - why am I surprised? And why is the lovely-sounding person on my blog so surprised? After all, the levels of suffering have not got worse. In fact, if anything, suffering has vastly reduced over the last fifty years (at least in the Western world). So then why are any of us surpised? To me this is a key question. I think it has to do with the fact that we are living in a society which is in massive denial about sadness, adversity, grief, pain. We live surrounded by images of happiness and talk of positive thinking. Conversations about death are considered morbid. Feeling sad is equated with failure or weakness. Avoiding pain has become the main national occupation. And so we are conned into thinking that the world is essentially a happy place. But it isn't. Suffering is right at the heart of human existence - and it doesn't matter how rich you are, how educated you are, how good you are - that's always going to be the same. If that were accepted and discussed then there wouldn't be people like me (aged 41) saying, 'Oh but I didn't know it would be this hard.'