Suffering

There is real suffering in this world,
and plenty of it.
Physical pain, emotional traumas,
all sorts of craziness, terminal greed,
and more cases of man’s inhumanity to man
than there are stars in the sky.
Even the well-to-do suffer—pampered peacocks,
locked in their gated cages, suffocating.

Instinctively, we want to know why, why all this grief?
Some, we understand first-hand, is useful—
adversity that forces us to grow up, yet again.
But others seem incomprehensible, unjustifiable
no matter how they are viewed.
We cry out, “Why?”

This, evidently, will remain a mystery,
for reasons also unknown. . .

If we lose faith, close ourselves off
from this state of not knowing,
then a subtle cynicism comes into play—
we fall back on easier ways of being,
settle for partial victories, smaller prizes:
        we judge and judge yet again, assuming our own infallibility;
        we defend our own tribe, our positions;
        we deny the humanity of our opponents,
        the Golden Rule lying unused in a corner—
        the primordial failure of our species on stark display.

But there is another path:
allowing the unknown to reside inside us,
alleviating what suffering we can,
learning to see the immense follies
of our self-inflicted pain,
and the possibilities of undoing it.

We then see the beauty around us,
inside of us, inside others,
all pointing to a Universe of meaning and purpose,
even if largely hidden from us.
In that, we persevere, we suffer, we heal, we rejoice.

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