No action destroys evil, but only the apparently useless and perfectly patient suffering of it.
Simone Weil, Gateway to God, p. 51 quoted in my diary entry on 10 October, 1984.
My belief in the above to be true, while never total, was stronger over three decades ago, when I was a Christian. The example of Jesus, given by a well-known Jesuit, seemed to confirm Weil’s intuition:
The power of the human person, his secret weapon, is his power to suffer and die.
From The Two-Edged Sword by John L. McKenzie, S.J., from page 25 of the same diary.
I look at the way the world has been increasingly dominated by a single political entity since I read the above statements, with, seemingly, little but pain and destruction for any peoples whether they dare to oppose it or not.
This dominion has been achieved by a combination of overwhelming military might, the absolute and wanton waste of Mother Earth’s natural resources on weaponry and, since the Reagan years, the gradual extreme control of the West’s mainstream media to the point that, among the smartest of us, there is a dismal, widespread lack of awareness.
I am now far from convinced that there is much hope for the approach of “turning swords into ploughshares.”
By the way, we Christians might be forgiven for thinking that Jesus used this phrase somewhere in the New Testament, but we would be shocked (I was!) to find that this everyday, so hopeful expression comes from the name of a statue completed in 1959 by a Russian sculptor named Evgeny Vuchetich and presented at that time to the United Nations, where it still stands. But New Yorkers may well be aware of this…
Yes, a Russian from, er, Russia! Go figure! The same Russia that is now increasingly, and I am convinced unfairly, vilified on the front pages and TV headlines of all the major organs of the “free press” for doing things that the planet’s paramount hegemon has been doing for just as long, albeit with greater success.
2 thoughts on “On Suffering and Disillusion”
Your observation about the vilification is well-taken, Bob, and it is certainly true in the media has been droning on and on about it long before the 2016 election. Anti-Russian (anti-communism) fears have always been feared by capitalists and the communistic cultures of Native peoples were explicitly mentioned as a rationale for oppressive US Federal Indian policies in the late 1800s.
As I contemplate resistance, I think about the dour windigo-like legislators who seem to derive pleasure from hurting others. I can see how accepting the suffering as one’s lot in life may actually have the opposite effect. “If a little oppression doesn’t make people really suffer, let’s turn up the volume.” I wonder if the way to resist is for people to simply turn up the volume on living in authentic loving celebratory solidarity. The opposite of suffering is joy. And the fact is we are all going to die. Why not enjoy the moments we have loving life and being kind to the earth and each other?
Great comment on upping the volume of joy.
Certainly my reflections on Nfld were joy-filled, as was our visit with our 3-y-o granddaughter across the border this weekend. I was joyful when we crossed with the usual cheeriness from border officials, not a given in these times! I was doubly joyful when Obamacare survived to fight another day. Then I listened to a CBC program about a First Nations mother who was told abruptly by Saskatchewan police that her son was “deceased” before proceeding to search her trailer, restraining her while she and her young son screamed in shock. The farmer that shot him (afraid that he and his friends in the farmer’s yard would rob him) goes on trial soon.
This last post on suffering was a draft with the two old quotes that awaited some attention and thinking for about 3 years. It got it today. Nowadays, when I think about suffering, the abysmal, externally-caused Syrian situation always comes up. What did Gen. Petraeus say? “Anything East of Suez is a target.” Not much room for joy there. Bad timing, perhaps…
My plan is to spend more time writing about joyful things on my blog than I have in the past. Thanks, Carola.