Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"What Suffering Does" (comment on David Brooks)


I applaud David Brooks’s suggestion (“What Suffering Does,” April 8) that suffering sometimes enables us to break through our culture’s common pursuit of hedonic “happiness” and to see life in terms of depth of experience, instead. This is why many of the most purposeful people I know, those with the least angst and vagueness about their lives, I’ve met in twelve-step groups. They have seen the depths, and discovered the value of life. 

Brooks is also right in suggesting that the best lives require us to accept suffering, to be vulnerable to the world. Those who "don’t care," diminish themselves. The traditional teachings that appear to advocate self-sufficiency, probably actually advocate the inner freedom that enables us to embrace more and care about everyone and everything. 

“For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you” (Whitman).

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