On suffering

Arguably the ‘greatest’ atheist of the 19th century, Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote in The Gay Science,

“When I think of the craving of young Europeans to do something, I realize that they must have a craving to suffer and find in their suffering a probable reason for action and deeds. These young people demand not happiness, but unhappiness, that should approach from the outside and become visible. They do no know what to do with themselves and therefore paint the distress of others on the wall. They always need others, and continually other others!”

I find this to be a remarkably insightful remark. Man needs struggle, he needs burdens, difficulties, and yes, he needs misery. The great motivating force of life is unhappiness. When these obstacles are removed from life it does not make for better living, but worse. Just as liberating man from responsibilities does not make him any freer, only less human, neither does liberating him from misery make him any happier. Instead, it becomes a motivation to engage himself in the misery of others. He revels in helping some stranger rather than his own, because he sees his own as the one oppressing the stranger.

In modern western society there is no great struggle for the average person. So they must conjure up some demons to combat. They imagine something oppressing them since what makes for better misery, which one can act against, than oppression? Leftism always has cannon fodder because it can always invent new victims, oppressors, and injustices. This keeps the masses busy, believing they are fighting against some oppression that they had not before realized existed but now understand is making them unhappy. But because the people know their life really is not that bad, their crusade is often on behalf of those whom they perceive to have it worse.

To experience this suffering they engage in empathy, feeling the perceived suffering of the victim classes. What the engagement in projection demonstrates is two things. First – Man must have suffering to give him purpose in life. Second – Those who engage in this empathy are shallow since they have forsaken the spiritual war for a physical one. We crave suffering and, more importantly, the struggle against suffering, for its spiritual fruits. There is no spiritual reward for struggling on behalf of perceived victims. It is vanity.

A Christian realizes that the greatest struggle in this life is not against poverty, tyranny, or ‘racism’, it’s against sin and temptation. This is a personal battle, one that each person must fight primarily by themselves. There can be no movement to eradicate lust, sloth, pride, envy, or hatred in your heart. All there can be is you and the support of friends and family. The attention has been turned outward; where we were not meant to concentrate. We are called to help others, yes, but help them with their inward struggle. That is the point of Christian marriage, to help each other in this life avoid sin and temptation. It is also the point of loving your neighbor as yourself, for it helps your soul and the soul of your neighbor.

One important issue to note is that external struggles can also be internal. In war, you are not only struggling against the physical enemy but against your own spiritual enemies such as fear and doubt. What distinguishes that form of external struggle from the one based upon empathy is that it is centered upon your inner character. Your participation in it depends upon, and shapes, your soul. A physical struggle for purely physical ends is hollow. It provides no benefit to your soul. Those who are this world focused abandoned the spiritual war for the shallow, physical war.

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3 thoughts on “On suffering

  1. I really liked this post and I agree with you wholeheartedly.
    I am so amazed by the amount of people I see nowadays who are so deluded to think that ‘HAPPY’ (and ‘careless’, as well) can be the default mode in which they live their lives. They chase and chase and chase and chase this illusion, but end up feeling completely miserable because the more they run after it, the farther it is from them. Happiness is relative, because it only exists as a contrast to unhappiness. I think that people should search for a meaning in their existence… that will certainly make them ‘happier’

  2. One can be content in any circumstance. Happiness is a by-product of doing something you love. It is contentment that we ought to seek, rather than happiness.

    I have also noticed that people who are too comfortable (i.e. all of us) tend to manufacture problems. It’s all so much hand wringing.

  3. Wind in the willows,

    “Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

    Lena S.,

    Take all the social justice warriors for example. They are mostly bourgeois youth with nothing better to do than invent new ridiculous terms like “cisgender” and complain about White heterosexual male privilege.

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