Friday, October 10, 2008

Comfort and Tolerance

Today I came across a quote from Dorothee Soelle, one of my favorite political theologians:
"This is the double face of apathy: denial and repression of one's own suffering and icy tolerance of the other's suffering. The strategies for avoiding suffering in our intimate relations are connected with the breath-taking tolerance with which we watch the genocide of whole peoples."

We live in a culture that has become increasingly disconnected from suffering, not only from that of others but from our own as well. One reason I would like to offer for this problem is that we are addicted to our own comfort. We fear our own suffering, we run from it to the point that we will, regardless of who gets in the way, unrelentingly race toward comfort. We will pile it around ourselves like soft pillows even if it costs the life of another. And in doing so, we dig a hole and the suffering we would feel now if our pillows were snatched from us is greater than any suffering we would be able to endure. We cannot turn back from comfort because the nations we stole our comfort from will retaliate if we try to return it. Thus comfort leads to revenge and revenge leads to ultimate suffering. The risk becomes so high that we simply tolerate the suffering of others for our own sake. Perhaps this is why Jesus invites us to the table to eat his body and the cup of his suffering. Jesus invites us into solidarity with others, yes, with those who hang on crosses.

Be intolerant of the suffering of others! And do it by way of your own suffering.

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