HBTT stands for Half-Baked Thought Thursday.
I read the following line seven months ago on one of my favorite blogs, Reflections of a Paralytic, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since:
A culture that respects human life must have a joyful acceptance of human suffering.
Chelsea went on to say that she hopes to help communicate this message to others by accepting her own crosses, which undoubtedly includes the fact that she became paralyzed in a car accident in high school.
We tend to regard suffering, not evil, as the worst thing there is and to be more anxious to avoid the former than the latter.
And, finally, I can never ponder the topic of suffering without thinking of the stunning writing of Drusilla. Her posts in her series called Those Damnably Inconvenient Corpses are some of the best blog posts I’ve ever read. Both of her parents were killed when she was young, she ended up with an abusive foster father, and she witnessed her grandfather’s murder. She knows a thing or two about suffering. In the final installment of the three-part series (here’s Part I and Part II), she writes:
If we have enough courage to examine suffering closely, we will find “hatred for God and his kingdom.” We will find Satan — not as a curiosity, nor as a convenient name for evil, nor as a metaphor for the process of maturation in which we separate from our parents and become autonomous, but as an actual being. […]
[God] has neutralized the enemy’s best weapon: fear of death. And by becoming man, “by taking [our] manhood into God, ” he has made it possible for us to participate in his victory if we will turn away from that insidious voice, if we reject Satan’s ‘freedom’ and instead be set free to be fully human, to grow into God’s image and likeness, to love him so much that even the wiles of the devil can only make us more like him.
Ever since I first came across these thoughts, over and over again I see that respect for human life and hatred of any kind of suffering are inversely proportional: as one increases, the other decreases. But I don’t know how to articulate the situation any further than that.
Here are some of the thoughts that run through my head as I ponder all this while folding laundry that I turn over to you guys to help me answer:
- Why is it that fear of suffering leads to decreased respect for human life?
- How does the fact that people increasingly deny the existence of a real, personal, evil force (Satan) factor into all this, if at all?
- What about fearing other people’s suffering (or potential suffering) on their behalf — how can we be deeply compassionate and helpful without falling into the dangerous “your life isn’t worth living” territory?
- If there is a connection, what can we do? How does rethinking suffering factor into working towards turning around the trend of decreasing respect for the dignity of human life in the world today?
- Any other thoughts on this subject?
I realize that volumes could be written about this subject — feel free to just throw out some brief thoughts on one or two points. I’m very interested to hear any thoughts you have. All comments welcome!
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