Please Kill Me,
There’s inherent honor in suffering. Not the totalitarian kind of suffering, mind you. Rather, the individual strife, pain, or misfortune that befalls everyone–different degrees to the same effect. In truth, many of my stories (many stories) pivot on those small yet character-defining moments of existential dread and confusion. The answer lies in confronting the problem. Enduring it. Becoming strong, that we may empower our affiliations, rather than falsely empowering ourselves with them.
Traditionally, authors have used something mundane, like stubbing a toe, to draw the lines of personality or set an emotional perimeter. The good guy rises. The bad guy reacts. Everyone else just sort of watches. What I’ve noticed is that these moments have become somewhat less prominent in reality. Individual pain has become a chore. Personal growth, a taunt rather than a call to action. Why?
We’re paradoxically beaten over the head with grand swaths of terror and bad news that may have sent previous generations fleeing the country. While we attempt to retroactively correct our cultural misdeeds, the killers are more lethal, the liars more prominent, manipulation is easier, and anyone can be the victim. Anyone can be the killer. The resulting stress has led to a growing and improper association between individual and societal problems.
We’ve become hive-minded. Defensive. Weak. Averted to personal responsibility in favor of criticizing constructs. We’re vulnerable to reality as we foster this narrative of progression. Meanwhile, very little changes but trending topics and their targets. We prefer to seek and destroy than to build. We’ve lost ourselves in the madness.
We avoid our own character-defining moments of suffering, preferring to blind ourselves with the illusion of justice and righteousness. It’s a paradoxical thing. It’s a temporary thing. An open lie to make us feel better. An imagined roof. When it rains, we just ignore the drops and curse the neighbors. It’s dangerous. Not because of what we see but because of what we won’t.
We avoid the singular existential issues at hand, in favor of societal problems that we think we can control. Hilariously, we’ve been trying to solve our personal issues by ignoring them. Wading in a river of our own bullshit, hoping it sticks to something real. The loss of suffering, ignoring suffering, upending those moments of self-definition has traumatized us–torn us away from meditation and self-reflection.
Can you blame us for avoiding the omnipresence of pain? At some point, the sufferer simply accepts the pain and moves on to “grander” matters. Things we can “control.” Less focused. Angry. Where’s the growth? The responsibility to self? The character-defining moment that separates the heroes from the villains from the spectators?
We’ve lost that somewhere along the way. A bit deeper, it seems like we’ve intentionally suffocated that area of personal reflection. Objectively, it’s more or less a defense mechanism–to keep us from becoming emotionally shattered in our own skin. We fear the discovery of which side of the line we’re truly on. Instead, we protest, with ostensible justice–hoping it to be a worthy cause.
We’ve created something of a double standard. We stub our toe and immediately look for the thing to blame if only to avoid the reality of being clumsy, blind, or just plain unlucky. We misdirect our frustrations and the energies that foster them. In doing so, we’re robbed of our individual evolution. When we elude our suffering, we stunt our personal growth.
Society adapts. We’re left as we were–destined to stub our toe (or at least, convinced that we are). Few people think to change their method of operation. Few people have the energy to focus on much more than the grand scheme of ‘eyes off me’. Few people care to suffer for their own benefit. Without it, we never truly know who we are. We’re just volunteering ourselves to causes that we hope can distract us a little longer. We miss the opportunities that lead to personal growth, all in the name of self-preservation and supposed social solutions.
But what are we preserving, if there’s nothing built? Who are we without our character-defining moments? Who are we but the manipulated, the cowardly, or the privately ashamed?
We risk becoming an ignorant entity. A weapon aimed at nothing. Spectators. Misrepresented spokes in the wheel of time. Watching the world spin and hoping the arrow never lands on us. Even if it does, we’ve trained ourselves to point elsewhere. Traumatized. Defeated. Distracted. Broken.
At least we can ignore it. Right?
Such is life.
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