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Valid pain

March 17, 2008

What is valid pain?  Is loneliness valid pain when monks are
burning themselves in Tibet?  Is lower back pain valid pain when
farmers are being driven from their land in Brazil?

My feelings of white, middle class guilt are heightened when I feel
pain because I know that my pain is so much less consuming than the
pain that many people feel.  How can I justify pining away over
lost loves and far-away friends when people are living in fear of guns
and germs far more frightening than loneliness?  Furthermore, much
of my pain is brought on by choices I make, such as to move away from
home, when many peoples’ pain is inescapable.  Nobody chooses to
live in a war zone or an inequitable economy.

I try to do good things with my time and my money, but when I feel pain
my anxiousness multiplies because I am reminded of the sickening
sensations that so many people experience on a daily basis.  I
want to ease their pain, and in small ways, I can.  I can offer a
smile.  A dollar.  My time.  Sometimes I think that even
offering my thoughts is enough to help bring momentary reprieve to
someone who is suffering.  If the mind is a powerful thing to
waste, it is also a powerful thing to use. 

As the world keeps turning in its terrifying ways, the best we can do
is offer each other comfort and love.  A smile.  A hug. 
A hand to hold.  Those are the things that help to get each of us
through our individual and collective pain.

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