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01 May 2016 - Empathizing Pain

posted May 1, 2016, 5:04 AM by Benjamin Bias
If you are reading this, then you are statistically likely to die after your body begins the long slide into decrepitude.  Great for you!

Year by year and day by day you will have little aches.  There will be little pains.  There will be common illnesses that seem to hang on longer than they used to.  There will be injuries that take a little longer to heal back to 100% functionality.  Your body is going to slow down and be less productive.

Use those little pains to empathize with the billions of humans you have never met.  Everyone feels pain.  Evolutionary theory says that pain helps an organism to avoid circumstances that reduce its ability to stay alive and thrive (procreate).   In your case, that probably makes sense - getting old and accumulating all those little pains are steps towards not alive.  That is the human condition and, ultimately, each person has to accept it.

But what about those humans who are born in pain?  Your little pains are unlikely to compare to the infant born into a life of pain due to disease or deformity.  Your experiences with illnesses should give you some empathy with the teenager with a bone cancer - imagine waking each day of your youth with aches deep in your bones, itches you cannot scratch, aches you cannot ease.

The human condition contains pain.  When you sob over your own aches, take a moment to think of all those people in the world who hurt.  Then, one day when you feel better, do what you can to help the other humans.  Not everyone has your resources.  Not everyone has your relatively healthy start in life.  Reach out with your resources and try to help others.

Most of all, please do not be crass.  Even if you were able to 'suck it up' when you were hurt, that definitely does not mean that others can.  How would you expect a family with a little kid with cancer to 'suck it up' emotionally, physically, and financially when just living without dire illness is already tough?  Think about your pain, think about your resources, and then empathize with others who are in pain and do not have your resources.