Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pain and Suffering

Pain is a part of my life. It is kind of like that unwanted relative that sticks around for so long that you have learned to live with them. This has caused me to wax philosophical about the concept of pain. I remember many times Pain has caught up with me when I was bent over working and attempted to straighten up; Pain stuck one of its claws into my lower back squeezed. I remember being dumped by a girl in High School and every time that girl walked into the same classroom Pain rapped another claw around my heart and squeezed.

There have been many quotes about suffering and pain and many stories to follow them up so let me try to glean a little philosophical wisdom and place them into bite sized chunks for you to swallow.

Pain originally was related to criminal punishment. It is from the French "peine" or Latin "poena" both of which stand for penalty paid with "torment, hardship, of suffering". The Greek "poine" includes a sense of atonement, payment or compensation. In the early 1900's it was distorted to someone "being a pain" which is someone irritating or annoying. By the 1930's it had been more localized as someone being a "pain in the neck" or a "pain in the butt" AND by 1950's there were drugs described as "pain-killers". So by that time the thought grew that pain was no longer positive (punishment or payment for something you did wrong) it was negative (something everybody had, an annoyance that had to be killed).

Suffering, on the other hand, was something that you had to endure without any moral cause as to why. You could suffer because of a wrong you committed or suffer from something you had nothing to do with. Suffer from Latin means to "bear, endure, carry or put up with" Late 13th century we find writing that translates suffer as "tolerate, or allow" as in the biblical "suffer the little children to come to me."

So much for WHAT is pain and suffering. Now to the more difficult WHY of pain and suffering. WHY does my knee constantly hurt? Because I had six surgeries on it? Because I sinned in High School right before my first surgery? Because God doesn't like basketball and wanted me to quit? Because of Adam and Eve's original sin that was born in me? Because the guy who passed the basketball to me hated me and wanted my knee to buckle? Because God had a better plan for me than being a basketball star? Because my tennis shoe manufacturer skimped on quality control and caused my knee to buckle? Because God wanted to teach me a lesson? Because God wanted to test my patience or curb my ego? Because God didn't like the girl I was dating (the one that dumped me in the story above after my first surgery)? Because Satan made me do it so I would be angry at God? Because there were little demons on the court that caused the buckling? Because my doctors messed up and so now I am still in pain? Because I like pain? Because pain is random and it was my turn?

Which of these is true? The answer is "yes" and more on that next time.

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