Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Suffering Olympics

I really dislike the comparison of suffering. When people say to me, "Oh, I've had problems, but not as bad as yours," I reply, "It's not a CONTEST." I did not medal in the Suffering Olympics, nor have I won the prize in the Suffering Sweepstakes.

I believe that suffering is an activity, and that there is no real way to measure it. As it says in La Jetee "il soufre," "he suffers." Suffering is a fact. We all experience and engage in it at times.

My friend, for example, has gout.

I refuse to believe that his suffering is any less agonizing than the suffering I am having due to melancholia.
Or the suffering I experience because of mixed mania.

My gout-ridden friend might disagree, but he's a tough guy, and what amounts to basically kidney-stones-of-the-toe isn't going to faze him.

I suffer; you suffer; we suffer. In the end, it's just not that interesting, and certainly does not qualify as something we should be having a contest about. Then again, perhaps some things are worse than others. [Warning: Don't click on the next link if you are in an emotionally susceptible state.] Can our enemies suffer? Or does our hatred for them preclude their suffering, because we refuse to suffer for them or with them?

Maybe there is a gold medal after all, but no one will win it because that one judge is always giving a 7.9 to what was a perfect 10 performance.

1 comment:

futuregirl said...

I haven't been watching the news lately ... so I hadn't really heard anything about Saddam.

That story made me really sad. Embarrassed. Is this what we are reduced to? Is this how we pass judgment?

The other day a Philly paper had the headline, "Say Hi To Hitler" with Saddam's picture next to it. My boss recently called the President of this Private Golf Club Hitler (for which I chastised him). In comparisons of suffering, as well as monstrosity, is there really a point? Aren't you just blurring the monstrosity of each individuals bad acts into a big "bad" soup, instead of acknowledging the reality and terribleness of their individual misdeeds?

Why can't they all be horrible in their own way? Just like we all have our own individual suffering to attend to?

I don't know where I'm going with this. But I do know that if we all treated each other like we'd want to be treated, the world would be a much different place (Hello? Christians ... where the hell are you?). Unless, of course, that person likes to be treated like crap, in which case, I've devised a prison just for them.