Pain and mercy
I often wonder why it is so easy to write about pain, sorrow, struggle, and strife. I know that there is much of the above in the world, and I would suppose most of us, if perhaps not all, are often part of this drama, that makes up the pain of the world. Its weight is heavy, burdensome, to the point were death is longed for by those who get the brunt of its crushing power. No one is free from this; even the so called rich, the carefree, have an inner burden that they also must carry, it is just hidden.
We take joy, and happiness, for granted when it is experienced. It almost seems our natural state, something we are made for. While suffering seems an intrusion, something foreign, a state we seek to escape; though it is not possible. Run from one form of suffering, and often the fruits we receive are double, or triple the pain, that must be endured. Addictions come to mind. We use them to find relief, but in the end, they only weigh those addicts down, even more deeply into pain, and the chaos, that often flows from this sort of thing. I am speaking from experience. Addictions don’t have to be the big ones; small addictions can also do a great deal of damage.
It seems to me, that most of the pain in the world is either self inflicted, or inflicted on others, by another human being. The sufferings from war are many; all one has to do is to turn on CNN, or Fox news, to get a front row seat on this drama that never seems to end. As a species, we seem to be in the grip of some irrational force that propels us towards chaos, pain, and war. Even in our private lives, this process is often at work, despite our best efforts to escape it.
In my own soul I experience this. Hence, the conflicts that I often find myself in when seeking to live according to the dictates of my conscience, and the inner struggle it seems to generate. The love/hate conflict seems to be the crux of the problem, though I guess this is simplistic; the will to power also comes to mind. People often get sentimental when speaking of love, gushing on about the love of neighbor, peace, and the like. However in reality most of the world’s religions do not tell us to “treat others as we would like to be treated”, or as Jesus said “to love your neighbor as yourself”, because it is easy, or a natural thing to do. Sometimes, I think gritting ones teeth helps in the very real struggle to love others, or perhaps counting to 10, or a 100 that is often needed in my case. It is a choice, love. True some loves are based on need, and instinct. We love our friends, but the love spoken of by Jesus, and also by the prophets of other religions, is based on a clear headed choice, or perhaps in the end, a habit, strengthened by grace. No matter it is often a struggle. It is easy to hate, to scapegoat, to condemn; it is a well worn path. All one has to do is get in, sit down, and allow this archetypical pattern to run its course. Sort of like being on a roller-coaster, except in the end it crashes, instead of stopping, to let the riders off.
The scale, with the pain of the world piled high, stands in the middle of a field. We each go up to it, and we either add to the weight, or lessen it, or perhaps many of us do a bit of both. It is so easy to hate, to scapegoat, to kill, rape, and maim. It is like a flood of emotions, which rushes up from the depths, seeking someone to take all of this pain out on. Someone, other, less than human; from another race, religion, tribe, sex, or perhaps simply from another political party; it does not matter. This of course does not work, and so the grinding of teeth continues, the pain increases, until death comes to release us one by one.
Christians call this ‘sin’, something real that can drive us mad. Until we find some solution that will stop this cycle of chaos, and pain, which the world seems caught up in; with no way to exit. Our main struggle is within, if not dealt with then it is brought out and fought in the world, others becoming the target, or again the scapegoat. Governments are good at this, the enemy without must be dealt with, and the ensuing destruction is the others fault. I suppose this is a role we all play, each playing our role, no matter how seemingly minor. Sometimes were the fly, and at others the windshield; as the saying goes.
It is mercy that heals this wound. First received, and then in gratefulness, shared with others. Mercy is not mercy if it is deserved; no, mercy is something offered to those who do not deserve it. It is offered in love to all, hence the Christian hope for the salvation of all men. To say I understand this is false, for God’s actions in the world are a deep and abiding mystery. I get confused by life just like most others, but my faith does give some light, in this journey we call life.
Yes life is a rough road, and we all travel it together. It is only on the personnel level that things can change. By the time it matures to the level of national conflict, I don’t think much can be done until the energy is fought out, or dissipated, the dead are buried, the orphans taken care of, cities rebuilt, and at least if the lesson is not learned, life can resume for awhile, till next time. The problem is that we get better at killing, our weapons more sophisticated, and our propaganda believed. In any case this will not stop until we learn as a species, and I feel that grace is needed for this to happen. I know the limitations of my heart. From my own experiences it is only when I allow myself to be channel of God’s love, do I just begin to do better. The emphasis is on the “just begin”. I have never moved much beyond that.
Sin is whatever destroys or lessens us. It is what enslaves us with the myriad addictions that mankind is subject to. I think the doctrine “Original Sin” makes a lot of sense. It is simply what we inherit from those who have gone before, a cycle of war, and pain, that we cannot seem to quit ourselves of. If you want to know what hell is like, well just read the papers. A world in which no responsibility is taken, but blame is sought in others, and then human retribution follows. An endless hellish cycle of tit for tat, that will never end, unless we grow in understanding of what really drives us, compels us to stay on this wheel of pain that seems to circle eternally, with mankind nailed to its spokes.
Yet I am hopeful.