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 suffering 
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The other day in class I noticed a criticism andf aversion to suffering. I think suffering can be an extremely good, growthful occurence. For example, many of us suffer through writing papers, and endless reading to get an education. I felt like I suffered through a horrnedous childhood for no reason but to survive. Regardless I am better for it. I am both stronger and more empathic.
When I read about the peoplein the Poisonwood Bible, I envy them in many ways. Though they suffer through malaria, starvation and imperialism, I get the sense that they have a better understanding and appreciation for the things in life that really matter. Too many of us are missing that. Especially in America, as we take everything for granted.
I am not suggesting that we be inhumane and force others to suffer. I am just suggesting that we take a different perception on it. If we can see the good and bad of suffering, tolerate 2 contradictory thoughts at once (termed cognitive dissonance) tahn we too shall grow.

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"But we shall rightly call a philosopher the man who is easily willing to learn every kind of knowledge, gladly turns to learning things. and is insatiable in this respect." Socrates


Mon Nov 24, 2003 12:11 pm
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Craig, I think Adah Price said it best herself when she talked about how we are a combination of both our stuggles and our successes(not her exact words but close enough). I think that for every struggle/hurdle/barrier along the way, we are presented with an opportunity to grow and change. Sometimes we choose to embrace those opportunities, sometimes we choose to wallow in our misfortune/suffering.


Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:42 pm
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My husband had a forestry instructor who actually told them, "you have to suffer to be happy". (They were never sure how much sarcasm he meant with those words.)

I definitely rejected this "suffering is good for you" view when I was younger. However, now I know that no one is immune from suffering, although many in third world countries would trade their sufferings for ours!

When I was 22, during my first full time job after college I was working in downtown Chicago. There was a black woman named Versie in my office that seemed to dislike me - probably because she thought I was some spoiled brat white college kid, whereas she was a single mother of 4 children, with 2 daughters who had a horrible lung disease.

Then one day, the four of us women were telling stories around the coffee pot. I told about how Roy and I didn't have a car when we were first married (our last semester in school, which had been just a few months prior), and we took 2 busses to get to a grocery store. One snowy winter day, the bus was "standing room only", and the bus became uncomfortably warm. I had some meat in the bottom of my backpack. I heard a "splat, splat, splat", and realized, to my acute embarrassment, that the meat was dripping through the pack onto the well-dressed gentleman's shoes behind me!

After hearing this story (and a few others) Versie remarked "Why, you have lived!" She treated me much better after that! It is interesting what it takes sometimes to be able to establish rapport with some people, who jump to incorrect conclusions!

Back to your main topic, I am also sure that I have not "learned the lessons" from some of the trials I have faced, yet, I am confident that the older I get, the more the pieces will fall into place, making sense of the past and the hand of Providence.

I am not yet a wise philosopher who can write well about suffering, but I certainly admire those who can!

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Sun Nov 30, 2003 3:48 pm
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I agree with all of you on this. Many of the lessons I have learned, in addition to the ability I have to relate or empathize with others is due to my own suffering or down falls. I see many parents today who do not want their children to suffer anything or to experience any adversity. Unfortunately, I see that as delaying the most extreme suffering yet to face those children. I do not wish as a parent that my children suffer in vein, but rather as a guide to better themselves as people.

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Sun Nov 30, 2003 7:45 pm
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I am in agreement with you all in that suffering does make you a better person. At the time of the suffering there is no way to see how you are going to out a better person but it does happen. I had a devastating miscarrriage a few years ago that took some time to get through, but now I can look back and see how that event changed my life. I wouldn't wish suffering on anyone but there is light at the end of the tunnel for those who are suffering.


Mon Dec 01, 2003 2:39 pm
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I agree with all of you and know I've grown through my own suffering. There is a wonderful quote by Helen Keller, "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.


Wed Dec 03, 2003 9:31 am
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