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Home » ESSAYS » Conclusion: Are You Immune? (“On Gratitude and Suffering,” Part IV)

Conclusion: Are You Immune? (“On Gratitude and Suffering,” Part IV)

Every human might suffer more in the future than they have in the past. If it happens to you, be compassionate with yourself.

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PART IV: Are You Immune?

Empathy is born of suffering. Political activism can be born of suffering (and of guilt and of many other factors — does it really matter which as long as the outcome is laudable?) Spiritual awakenings, life purposes, historic events, meaningful relationships, political coalitions — many great things are born of suffering.

We rob ourselves of the potential for greatness by denigrating suffering and the sufferer, whether in ourselves or others, just as much as we rob ourselves of balance and perspective when we fail to cultivate gratitude for our blessings.
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So, next time you find yourself feeling critical of how another person handles adversity, stop yourself. Try out the phrase, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” If you cannot believe you would ever be in that other person’s shoes, then before you condemn another for their agony, remember Jesus’ message to those ready to stone the adulteress: “Ye who is without sin may throw the first stone.”

Have you never experienced despair? Is it a sin to do so? A fault? Jesus wouldn’t say so. In the face of others’ misery he offered understanding, healing, and his very life instead of the criticism that today we are so quick to express.

May we see other humans for all they are, strengths and weaknesses, and look for the dignity in every human. May we learn from our suffering, if suffer we must. And may that pain increase our sensitivity to the agony of others, causing us to forego judgment and to reach for empathy instead.
 

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