Humans make mistakes, and mistakes cause suffering. If I choose to hit a man there will be consequences. These consequences cause suffering for others and myself.
Some people’s suffering is greater than others. There are those small times of suffering, like when we don’t get what we want or scrap our knee. Then there are those times when it is really hard. Such as when you lose a loved one, or your parents get a divorce. The fact is not that some suffer more than others; it is that we all suffer in some way. A person suffers when his best friend has died in a drunk driving accident, or a child in Africa realizes that he is going to bed hungry again. This is where suffering becomes a teacher. When I am suffering I look at how others suffer and realizes that I am privileged. I at least have a loving family, food, water, safety, and shelter. Some people don’t even have these.
Although suffering is hard to deal with, and generally unpleasant, it is an essential part of being human. Without suffering we would not have those times of happiness and bliss; because we would have nothing to compare them to and see how much better they are. The other night I was having a great dinner with my parents, brother, aunt, and uncle. It was great; everyone was having a fabulous time. It was a time of joy and happiness. But then I realized that if I had not suffered at some time in my life I would not have realized how wonderful this was. It’s like trying to figure out how big something is without having anything to compare it to; you cant do it.
Suffering makes us human. To be without it is to be bereft of other emotions. The decisions we make have certain consequences and these consequences lead to suffering. Not just for us but for others as well. Next time you are faced with a time of suffering compare it to another person’s and see how much better your position is. It helps a little but you are still suffering. So I quote Batman, “The night is darkest before the dawn.” Realize that after suffering there is happiness.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.