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Suffering alone, it hurts

Juan Pablo Viola

Back to Juan Pablo Viola, PhD in Philosophy by the University of Navarra. This time he
brings us a articleto reflect on suffering, pain and grief as a consequence of the Covid pandemic.
as a consequence of the Covid pandemic.

Suffering alone, it hurts

This pandemic has put us through experiences of pain and anguish of all kinds subject, and we are still going through it . In many cases in the flesh, as a consequence of a harsh confinement with disastrous economic consequences, and in too many cases, very painful, because of the loss of a loved one. The coronavirus has again made it clear that there are episodes in life that hurt us, either physically or emotionally.

When faced with any physical or emotional experience that is harmful, the nervous system sends impulses of discomfort to the brain. One of its most peculiar characteristics is that we cannot adapt to it, we cannot avoid it. The scratch of pain violates our humanity, it generates displeasure and uneasiness, and therefore, no one remains unmoved by its bite.

However, we can make an important distinction here: there is another pain in the case of man that goes beyond the biological. It is suffering. To suffer is to decide on the inner and very personal experience of pain. Therefore, we can affirm that there is only one subjectof pain, but as many forms of suffering as there are individuals. 

Suffering alone, it hurts

For this reason, during the COVID quarantines there were those who reacted badly. They became depressed, could not cope with the illness, could not tolerate the disappearance of a close friend or loved one, isolated themselves, became angry with state institutions and their handling of the crisis, invented the wildest conspiracy theories, and so on and so forth. 

However, there were others who volunteered, who showed solidarity regardless of the danger of getting sick, who acted quickly and strategically, who took advantage of the time to create or to reconnect with their families. Why did this happen? Because homo sapiens sapiens is not just another species. Their abilities to cope with adversity are infinitely superior to those of any other living being. 

Human beings have the will to be free and the responsibility to take responsibility for what we do. Thus we can say that to suffer is to choose how we deal with pain. No one decides to suffer on their own, but they can choose how to do so. If pain is soothed with painkillers, suffering lived with meaning educates us. 

Suffering alone, it hurts

An ancient philosopher, Anacharsis the Scythian, from the time of Solon (rather forgotten by the manuals of Philosophy) said something rather curious: "It is a great evil not to be able to suffer any evil, and it is necessary to suffer in order to suffer less". And from this we deduce something important: "one learns to suffer by suffering", there is no "remedy".

One last point I wanted to make in all my argumentation. While it is true that this Schoolto choose how we suffer is an amazing thing in a higher living being, in the case of man, learning to take ownership of our moral pain is not enough. We cannot bear the pain we feel in our souls alone. At least not for long. And I have not come to this conclusion through ordinary experience alone: Dr. Waldinger's essays at Harvard demonstrate this in a number of ways.

As we said before, for pain the pills, but for suffering the others: the friend, the mother, the brother, the grandfather. God, but that God always incarnated in the other, who for the believer can be the priest, the nun who cares for the sick, the mediator. In solitude we wither quickly, we collapse like a sand castle, we find no meaning in physical pain. 

That is why: worse than the physical discomfort, the tragedy of suffering alone. Loneliness leaves us absolutely ex-posed to our essential vulnerability. And why is the one who accompanies me the best lenitive for my pain? Because with his voiceless face, he urges me: "My person suffers with you". And this "suffering with" is, in a certain way, the miracle of the redemption of human suffering.

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