Why Good Person Always Suffer Quotes

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Let's say that the consensus is that our species, being the higher primates, Homo Sapiens, has been on the planet for at least 100,000 years, maybe more. Francis Collins says maybe 100,000. Richard Dawkins thinks maybe a quarter-of-a-million. I'll take 100,000. In order to be a Christian, you have to believe that for 98,000 years, our species suffered and died, most of its children dying in childbirth, most other people having a life expectancy of about 25 years, dying of their teeth. Famine, struggle, bitterness, war, suffering, misery, all of that for 98,000 years. Heaven watches this with complete indifference. And then 2000 years ago, thinks 'That's enough of that. It's time to intervene,' and the best way to do this would be by condemning someone to a human sacrifice somewhere in the less literate parts of the Middle East. Don't lets appeal to the Chinese, for example, where people can read and study evidence and have a civilization. Let's go to the desert and have another revelation there. This is nonsense. It can't be believed by a thinking person. Why am I glad this is the case? To get to the point of the wrongness of Christianity, because I think the teachings of Christianity are immoral. The central one is the most immoral of all, and that is the one of vicarious redemption. You can throw your sins onto somebody else, vulgarly known as scapegoating. In fact, originating as scapegoating in the same area, the same desert. I can pay your debt if I love you. I can serve your term in prison if I love you very much. I can volunteer to do that. I can't take your sins away, because I can't abolish your responsibility, and I shouldn't offer to do so. Your responsibility has to stay with you. There's no vicarious redemption. There very probably, in fact, is no redemption at all. It's just a part of wish-thinking, and I don't think wish-thinking is good for people either. It even manages to pollute the central question, the word I just employed, the most important word of all: the word love, by making love compulsory, by saying you MUST love. You must love your neighbour as yourself, something you can't actually do. You'll always fall short, so you can always be found guilty. By saying you must love someone who you also must fear. That's to say a supreme being, an eternal father, someone of whom you must be afraid, but you must love him, too. If you fail in this duty, you're again a wretched sinner. This is not mentally or morally or intellectually healthy. And that brings me to the final objection - I'll condense it, Dr. Orlafsky - which is, this is a totalitarian system. If there was a God who could do these things and demand these things of us, and he was eternal and unchanging, we'd be living under a dictatorship from which there is no appeal, and one that can never change and one that knows our thoughts and can convict us of thought crime, and condemn us to eternal punishment for actions that we are condemned in advance to be taking. All this in the round, and I could say more, it's an excellent thing that we have absolutely no reason to believe any of it to be true.
Christopher Hitchens
Isn’t it funny how we make rational excuses for being out of alignment? We say, “Well, this ____ and that ____ happened, so it makes perfect sense for me to be feeling like this ____ and wanting to do this ____.” Yet, to this day, I have never met a happy person who adheres to those excuses. In fact, each time I – or anyone else – decide to give in to “rational excuses” that justify feeling bad – it’s interesting that only further suffering is the result. There is never a good enough reason for us to be out of alignment with peace. Sure, we can go there and make choices that dim our lights… and that is fine; there certainly is purpose for it and the contrast gives us lessons to learn… yet if we’re aware of what we are doing and we’re ready to let go of the suffering – then why go there at all? It’s like beating a dead horse. Been there, done that… so why do we keep repeating it? Pain is going to happen; it’s inevitable in this human experience, yet it is often so brief. When we make those excuses, what happens is: we pick up that pain and begin to carry it with us into the next day… and the next day… into next week… maybe next month… and some of us even carry it for years or to our graves! Forgive, let it go! It is NOT worth it! It is NEVER worth it. There is never a good enough reason for us to pick up that pain and carry it with us. There is never a good enough reason for us to be out of alignment with peace. Unforgiveness hurts you; it hurts others, so why even go there? Why even promote pain? Why say painful things to yourself or others? Why think pain? Just let it go! Whenever I look back on painful things or feel pain today, I know it is my EGO that drives me to “go there.” The EGO likes to have the last word, it likes to feel superior, it likes to make others feel less than in hopes that it will make itself (me) feel better about my insecurities. Maybe if I hurt them enough, they will feel the pain I felt over what they did to me. It’s only fair! It’s never my fault; it’s always someone else’s. There is a twisted sense of pleasure I get from feeling this way, and my EGO eats it right up. YET! With awareness that continues to grow and expand each day, I choose to not feed my pain (EGO) or even go there. I still feel it at times, of course, so I simply acknowledge it and then release it. I HAVE power and choice over my speech and actions. I do not need to ever “go there” again. It’s my choice; it’s your choice. So it’s about damn time we start realizing this. We are not victims of our impulses or emotions; we have the power to control them, and so it’s time to stop acting like we don’t. It’s time to relinquish the excuses.
Alaric Hutchinson (Living Peace: Essential Teachings for Enriching Life)
So? If I die, then I die! The loss to the world won’t be great. Yes, and I’m fairly bored with myself already. I am like a man who is yawning at a ball, whose reason for not going home to bed is only that his carriage hasn’t arrived yet. But the carriage is ready . . . farewell! I run through the memory of my past in its entirety and can’t help asking myself: Why have I lived? For what purpose was I born? . . . There probably was one once, and I probably did have a lofty calling, because I feel a boundless strength in my soul . . . But I didn’t divine this calling. I was carried away with the baits of passion, empty and unrewarding. I came out of their crucible as hard and cold as iron, but I had lost forever the ardor for noble aspirations, the best flower of life. Since then, how many times have I played the role of the ax in the hands of fate! Like an instrument of execution, I fell on the head of doomed martyrs, often without malice, always without regret . . . My love never brought anyone happiness, because I never sacrificed anything for those I loved: I loved for myself, for my personal pleasure. I was simply satisfying a strange need of the heart, with greediness, swallowing their feelings, their joys, their suffering—and was never sated. Just as a man, tormented by hunger, goes to sleep in exhaustion and dreams of sumptuous dishes and sparkling wine before him. He devours the airy gifts of his imagination with rapture, and he feels easier. But as soon as he wakes: the dream disappears . . . and all that remains is hunger and despair redoubled! And, maybe, I will die tomorrow! . . . And not one being on this earth will have ever understood me totally. Some thought of me as worse, some as better, than I actually am . . . Some will say “he was a good fellow,” others will say I was a swine. Both one and the other would be wrong. Given this, does it seem worth the effort to live? And yet, you live, out of curiosity, always wanting something new . . . Amusing and vexing!
Mikhail Lermontov (A Hero of Our Time)
Some things you carry around inside you as though they were part of your blood and bones, and when that happens, there’s nothing you can do to forget …But I had never been much of a believer. If anything, I believed that things got worse before they got better. I believed good people suffered... people who have faith were so lucky; you didn’t want to ruin it for them. You didn’t want to plant doubt where there was none. You had to treat suck individuals tenderly and hope that some of whatever they were feeling rubs off on you Those who love you will love you forever, without questions or boundaries or the constraints of time. Daily life is real, unchanging as a well-built house. But houses burn; they catch fire in the middle of the night. The night is like any other night of disaster, with every fact filtered through a veil of disbelief. The rational world has spun so completely out of its orbit, there is no way to chart or expect what might happen next At that point, they were both convinced that love was a figment of other people’s imaginations, an illusion fashioned out of smoke and air that really didn’t exist Fear, like heat, rises; it drifts up to the ceiling and when it falls down it pours out in a hot and horrible rain True love, after all, could bind a man where he didn’t belong. It could wrap him in cords that were all but impossible to break Fear is contagious. It doubles within minutes; it grows in places where there’s never been any doubt before The past stays with a man, sticking to his heels like glue, invisible and heartbreaking and unavoidable, threaded to the future, just as surely as day is sewn to night He looked at girls and saw only sweet little fuckboxes, there for him to use, no hearts involved, no souls, and, most assuredly no responsibilities. Welcome to the real world. Herein is the place where no one can tell you whether or not you’ve done the right thing. I could tell people anything I wanted to, and whatever I told them, that would be the truth as far as they were concerned. Whoever I said I was, well then, that’s who id be The truths by which she has lived her life have evaporated, leaving her empty of everything except the faint blue static of her own skepticism. She has never been a person to question herself; now she questions everything Something’s, are true no matter how hard you might try to bloc them out, and a lie is always a lie, no matter how prettily told You were nothing more than a speck of dust, good-looking dust, but dust all the same Some people needed saving She doesn’t want to waste precious time with something as prosaic as sleep. Every second is a second that belongs to her; one she understands could well be her last Why wait for anything when the world is so cockeyed and dangerous? Why sit and stare into the mirror, too fearful of what may come to pass to make a move? At last she knows how it feels to take a chance when everything in the world is at stake, breathless and heedless and desperate for more She’ll be imagining everything that’s out in front of them, road and cloud and sky, all the elements of a future, the sort you have to put together by hand, slowly and carefully until the world is yours once more
Alice Hoffman (Blue Diary)
So, why is it so important to live our personal calling if we are only going to suffer more than other people? Because, once we have overcome the defeats – and we always do – we are filled by a greater sense of euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we know that we are proving ourselves worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the good fight. We start to live with enthusiasm and pleasure. Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the latter goes on for years and, without our noticing, eats away at our soul, until, one day, we are no longer able to free ourselves from the bitterness and it stays with us for the rest of our lives.
Paulo Coelho
Socrates tried to soothe us, true enough. He said there were only two possibilities. Either the soul is immortal or, after death, things would be again as blank as they were before we were born. This is not absolutely comforting either. Anyway it was natural that theology and philosophy should take the deepest interest in this. They owe it to us not to be boring themselves. On this obligation they don’t always make good. However, Kierkegaard was not a bore. I planned to examine his contribution in my master essay. In his view the primacy of the ethical over the esthetic mode was necessary to restore the balance. But enough of that. In myself I could observe the following sources of tedium: 1) The lack of a personal connection with the external world. Earlier I noted that when I was riding through France in a train last spring I looked out of the window and thought that the veil of Maya was wearing thin. And why was this? I wasn’t seeing what was there but only what everyone sees under a common directive. By this is implied that our worldview has used up nature. The rule of this view is that I, a subject, see the phenomena, the world of objects. They, however, are not necessarily in themselves objects as modern rationality defines objects. For in spirit, says Steiner, a man can step out of himself and let things speak to him about themselves, to speak about what has meaning not for him alone but also for them. Thus the sun the moon the stars will speak to nonastronomers in spite of their ignorance of science. In fact it’s high time that this happened. Ignorance of science should not keep one imprisoned in the lowest and weariest sector of being, prohibited from entering into independent relations with the creation as a whole. The educated speak of the disenchanted (a boring) world. But it is not the world, it is my own head that is disenchanted. The world cannot be disenchanted. 2) For me the self-conscious ego is the seat of boredom. This increasing, swelling, domineering, painful self-consciousness is the only rival of the political and social powers that run my life (business, technological-bureaucratic powers, the state). You have a great organized movement of life, and you have the single self, independently conscious, proud of its detachment and its absolute immunity, its stability and its power to remain unaffected by anything whatsoever — by the sufferings of others or by society or by politics or by external chaos. In a way it doesn’t give a damn. It is asked to give a damn, and we often urge it to give a damn but the curse of noncaring lies upon this painfully free consciousness. It is free from attachment to beliefs and to other souls. Cosmologies, ethical systems? It can run through them by the dozens. For to be fully conscious of oneself as an individual is also to be separated from all else. This is Hamlet’s kingdom of infinite space in a nutshell, of “words, words, words,” of “Denmark’s a prison.
Saul Bellow (Humboldt's Gift)
to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how. I ask myself: are defeats necessary? Well, necessary or not, they happen. When we first begin fighting for our dream, we have no experience and make many mistakes. The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times. So, why is it so important to live our personal calling if we are only going to suffer more than other people? Because, once we have overcome the defeats—and we always do—we are filled by a greater sense of euphoria and confidence. In the silence of our hearts, we know that we are proving ourselves worthy of the miracle of life. Each day, each hour, is part of the good fight. We start to live with enthusiasm and pleasure. Intense, unexpected suffering passes more quickly than suffering that is apparently bearable; the latter goes on for years and, without our noticing, eats away at our soul, until, one day, we are no longer able to free ourselves from the bitterness and it stays with us for the rest of our lives. Having disinterred our dream, having used the power of love to nurture it and spent many years living with the scars, we suddenly notice that what we always wanted is there, waiting for us, perhaps the very next day. Then comes the fourth obstacle: the fear of realizing the dream for which we fought all our lives. Oscar Wilde said: “Each man kills the thing he loves.” And it’s true. The mere possibility of getting what we want fills the soul
Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
the challenges of our day-to-day existence are sustained reminders that our life of faith simply must have its center somewhere other than in our ability to hold it together in our minds. Life is a pounding surf that wears away our rock-solid certainty. The surf always wins. Slowly but surely. Eventually. It may be best to ride the waves rather than resist them. What are your one or two biggest obstacles to staying Christian? What are those roadblocks you keep running into? What are those issues that won’t go away and make you wonder why you keep on believing at all? These are questions I asked on a survey I gave on my blog in the summer of 2013. Nothing fancy. I just asked some questions and waited to see what would happen. In the days to come, I was overwhelmed with comments and e-mails from readers, many anonymous, with bracingly honest answers often expressed through the tears of relentless and unnerving personal suffering. I didn’t do a statistical analysis (who has the time, plus I don’t know how), but the responses fell into five categories.         1.        The Bible portrays God as violent, reactive, vengeful, bloodthirsty, immoral, mean, and petty.         2.        The Bible and science collide on too many things to think that the Bible has anything to say to us today about the big questions of life.         3.        In the face of injustice and heinous suffering in the world, God seems disinterested or perhaps unable to do anything about it.         4.        In our ever-shrinking world, it is very difficult to hold on to any notion that Christianity is the only path to God.         5.        Christians treat each other so badly and in such harmful ways that it calls into question the validity of Christianity—or even whether God exists. These five categories struck me as exactly right—at least, they match up with my experience. And I’d bet good money they resonate with a lot of us. All five categories have one big thing in common: “Faith in God no longer makes sense to me.” Understanding, correct thinking, knowing what you believe—these were once true of their faith, but no longer are. Because life happened. A faith that promises to provide firm answers and relieve our doubt is a faith that will not hold up to the challenges and tragedies of life. Only deep trust can hold up.
Peter Enns (The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our "Correct" Beliefs)
SPIEGEL: You have a lot of respect for the Dalai Lama, you even rewrote some Buddhist writings for him. Are you a religious person? Cleese: I certainly don't think much of organized religion. I am not committed to anything except the vague feeling that there is something more going on than the materialist reductionist people think. I think you can reduce suffering a little bit, like the Buddhists say, that is one of the few things I take seriously. But the idea that you can run this planet in a rational and kind way -- I think it's not possible. There will always be these sociopaths at the top -- selfish people, power-seekers who want to spend their whole lives seeking it. Robin Skynner, the psychiatrist that I wrote two books with, said to me that you could begin to enjoy life when you realized how bad the planet is, how hopeless everything is. I reached that point these last two or three years when I saw that our existence here is absolutely hopeless. I see the rich people have got a stranglehold on us. If somebody had said that to me when I was 20, I would have regarded him as a left-wing loony. SPIEGEL: You may not have been a left-wing loony, but you were happy to attack and ridicule the church. The "Life of Brian," the story of a young man in Judea who isn't Jesus Christ, but is nevertheless followed like a savior and crucified afterwards, was regarded as blasphemy when it was released in 1979. Cleese: Well there was a small number of people in country towns, all very conservative, who got upset and said, "You can't show the film." So people hired a coach and drove 15 miles to the next town and went to see the film there. But a lot of Christians said, "We got it, we know that the joke is not about religion, but about the way people follow religion." If Jesus saw the Spanish Inquisition I think he would have said, "What are you doing there?" SPIEGEL: These days Muslims and Islam are risky subjects. Do you think they are good issues for satire? Cleese: For sure. In 1982, Graham Chapman and I wrote a number of scenes for "The Meaning of Life" movie which had an ayatollah in them. This ayatollah was raging against all the evil inventions of the West, you know, like toilet paper. These scenes were never included in the film, although I thought they were much better than many other scenes that were included. And that's why I didn't do any more Python films: I didn't want to be outvoted any longer. But I wouldn't have made fun of the prophet. SPIEGEL: Why not? Cleese: How could you? How could you make fun of Jesus or Saint Francis of Assisi? They were wonderful human beings. People are only funny when they behave inappropriately, when they've been taken over by some egotistical emotion which they can't control and they become less human. SPIEGEL: Is there a difference between making fun of our side, so to speak, the Western, Christian side, and Islam? Cleese: There shouldn't be a difference. [SPIEGEL Interview with John Cleese: 'Satire Makes People Think' - 2015]
John Cleese
Divorce is distressing. One does need moral support. Divorce lawyers are professionally adept at persuasively taking your side. A good divorce lawyer will have no trouble agreeing that an errant husband’s adultery killed the marriage and that he is, consequently, tyrannical for holding against his wife her own tiny indiscretion, which was a mere meaningless one-time fling with a friend. Divorce lawyers are the professional adepts at proxying for the kind of emotional support often given by best friends. Attorneys are ready and able to provide you with emotional alliance. But let me ask you: are you ready to pay a divorce lawyer’s hourly rate for emotional support? Why not use lawyers for legal work and reach for emotional support elsewhere? Many people are much better suited to comfort you. Most of them work cheaper or even free: therapists, clergy, primary care physicians. Your mother is often a good choice, and always free. Your best friend may be a good choice—unless your spouse is sleeping with your best friend. Facebook is full of “supporting each other in divorce” groups. Talk to your mother. Talk to your friends. Talk to the fellow-sufferers on Facebook (but do be careful not to give out too many personal details). These resources might not heal all of your emotional scars, but unlike your divorce layers, they are cheap or even free. They will cost less even if you become quite a successful practitioner in the art of stiffing an attorney for his fees.
Portia Porter (Can You Stiff Your Divorce Lawyer? Tales of How Cunning Clients Can Get Free Legal Work, as Told by an Experienced Divorce Attorney)
Let us go and sit in the shade," said Lord Henry. "Parker has brought out the drinks, and if you stay any longer in this glare, you will be quite spoiled, and Basil will never paint you again. You really must not allow yourself to become sunburnt. It would be unbecoming." "What can it matter?" cried Dorian Gray, laughing, as he sat down on the seat at the end of the garden. "It should matter everything to you, Mr. Gray." "Why?" "Because you have the most marvellous youth, and youth is the one thing worth having." "I don't feel that, Lord Henry." "No, you don't feel it now. Some day, when you are old and wrinkled and ugly, when thought has seared your forehead with its lines, and passion branded your lips with its hideous fires, you will feel it, you will feel it terribly. Now, wherever you go, you charm the world. Will it always be so? ... You have a wonderfully beautiful face, Mr. Gray. Don't frown. You have. And beauty is a form of genius--is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts of the world, like sunlight, or spring-time, or the reflection in dark waters of that silver shell we call the moon. It cannot be questioned. It has its divine right of sovereignty. It makes princes of those who have it. You smile? Ah! when you have lost it you won't smile.... People say sometimes that beauty is only superficial. That may be so, but at least it is not so superficial as thought is. To me, beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.... Yes, Mr. Gray, the gods have been good to you. But what the gods give they quickly take away. You have only a few years in which to live really, perfectly, and fully. When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it, and then you will suddenly discover that there are no triumphs left for you, or have to content yourself with those mean triumphs that the memory of your past will make more bitter than defeats. Every month as it wanes brings you nearer to something dreadful. Time is jealous of you, and wars against your lilies and your roses. You will become sallow, and hollow-cheeked, and dull-eyed. You will suffer horribly.... Ah! realize your youth while you have it. Don't squander the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, or giving away your life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar. These are the sickly aims, the false ideals, of our age. Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.... A new Hedonism--that is what our century wants. You might be its visible symbol. With your personality there is nothing you could not do. The world belongs to you for a season.... The moment I met you I saw that you were quite unconscious of what you really are, of what you really might be. There was so much in you that charmed me that I felt I must tell you something about yourself. I thought how tragic it would be if you were wasted. For there is such a little time that your youth will last--such a little time. The common hill-flowers wither, but they blossom again. The laburnum will be as yellow next June as it is now. In a month there will be purple stars on the clematis, and year after year the green night of its leaves will hold its purple stars. But we never get back our youth. The pulse of joy that beats in us at twenty becomes sluggish. Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!
Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
This evolutionary process of productive adaptation and ascent—the process of seeking, obtaining, and pursuing more and more ambitious goals—does not just pertain to how individuals and society move forward. It is equally relevant when dealing with setbacks, which are inevitable. At some point in your life you will crash in a big way. You might fail at your job or with your family, lose a loved one, suffer a serious accident or illness, or discover the life you imagined is out of reach forever. There are a whole host of ways that something will get you. At such times, you will be in pain and might think that you don’t have the strength to go on. You almost always do, however; your ultimate success will depend on you realizing that fact, even though it might not seem that way at the moment. This is why many people who have endured setbacks that seemed devastating at the time ended up as happy as (or even happier than) they originally were after they successfully adapted to them. The quality of your life will depend on the choices you make at those painful moments. The faster one appropriately adapts, the better.24 No matter what you want out of life, your ability to adapt and move quickly and efficiently through the process of personal evolution will determine your success and your happiness. If you do it well, you can change your psychological reaction to it so that what was painful can become something you crave. 1.8 Weigh second- and third-order consequences. By recognizing the higher-level consequences nature optimizes for, I’ve come to see that people who overweigh the first-order consequences of their decisions and ignore the effects of second- and subsequent-order consequences rarely reach their goals. This is because first-order consequences often have opposite desirabilities from second-order consequences, resulting in big mistakes in decision making. For example, the first-order consequences of exercise (pain and time spent) are commonly considered undesirable, while the second-order consequences (better health and more attractive appearance) are desirable. Similarly, food that tastes good is often bad for you and vice versa. Quite often the first-order consequences are
Ray Dalio (Principles: Life and Work)
May God’s people never eat rabbit or pork (Lev. 11:6–7)? May a man never have sex with his wife during her monthly period (Lev. 18:19) or wear clothes woven of two kinds of materials (Lev. 19:19)? Should Christians never wear tattoos (Lev. 19:28)? Should those who blaspheme God’s name be stoned to death (Lev. 24:10–24)? Ought Christians to hate those who hate God (Ps. 139:21–22)? Ought believers to praise God with tambourines, cymbals, and dancing (Ps. 150:4–5)? Should Christians encourage the suffering and poor to drink beer and wine in order to forget their misery (Prov. 31:6–7)? Should parents punish their children with rods in order to save their souls from death (Prov. 23:13–14)? Does much wisdom really bring much sorrow and more knowledge more grief (Eccles. 1:18)? Will becoming highly righteous and wise destroy us (Eccles. 7:16)? Is everything really meaningless (Eccles. 12:8)? May Christians never swear oaths (Matt. 5:33–37)? Should we never call anyone on earth “father” (Matt. 23:9)? Should Christ’s followers wear sandals when they evangelize but bring no food or money or extra clothes (Mark 6:8–9)? Should Christians be exorcising demons, handling snakes, and drinking deadly poison (Mark 16:15–18)? Are people who divorce their spouses and remarry always committing adultery (Luke 16:18)? Ought Christians to share their material goods in common (Acts 2:44–45)? Ought church leaders to always meet in council to issue definitive decisions on matters in dispute (Acts 15:1–29)? Is homosexuality always a sin unworthy of the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9–10)? Should unmarried men not look for wives (1 Cor. 7:27) and married men live as if they had no wives (1 Cor. 7:29)? Is it wrong for men to cover their heads (1 Cor. 11:4) or a disgrace of nature for men to wear long hair (1 Cor. 11:14)? Should Christians save and collect money to send to believers in Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:1–4)? Should Christians definitely sing psalms in church (Col. 3:16)? Must Christians always lead quiet lives in which they work with their hands (1 Thess. 4:11)? If a person will not work, should they not be allowed to eat (2 Thess. 3:10)? Ought all Christian slaves always simply submit to their masters (reminder: slavery still exists today) (1 Pet. 2:18–21)? Must Christian women not wear braided hair, gold jewelry, and fine clothes (1 Tim. 2:9; 1 Pet. 3:3)? Ought all Christian men to lift up their hands when they pray (1 Tim. 2:8)? Should churches not provide material help to widows who are younger than sixty years old (1 Tim. 5:9)? Will every believer who lives a godly life in Christ be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12)? Should the church anoint the sick with oil for their healing (James 5:14–15)? The list of such questions could be extended.
Christian Smith (The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture)
Dear, What’s the Point of it All? What is the point of being nice? When you do not know what you are going to get from it? Knowing eventually sooner rather than later someone and maybe that person you are being nice to will turn their back on you. I always have to stay grounded and focused. When I am there for people, I feel like I am always punished for it. I am always treated as if I committed a crime. I was there for my mom; however, she was killing me slowly but surely. Like my mom, I noticed that when people get themselves in some shit, they get stuck in their own mess. They are confident that they do not have to deal with the consequences—because they know the ‘kind’ person will bail them out. What’s the point of being kind? Like my mom and the officer, there are so many people in the world who are judgmental and tainted because of their selfish needs. What’s the point of my life? Here I am in a library filled with many books. I can read them and go anywhere I want to in my mind, but after I close the book, I will have to snap out of my fantasy world and welcome the cruel cold world, which is reality. If I was a book, I would be better off left on the shelf. There is no excitement in my life—only struggles. What’s the point of living and loving life when the only thing I do is read between the lines and tread carefully? Come to think about it, I am a book that nobody can understand or read. They think they know what is best for me, but if they only take the time to listen, I would be so happy to tell them about me and my needs and wants. My actions scream for attention, but time after time, I am ignored. Sadly, without a care, they were quick to rip out the pages. Yet, once again, nobody noticed me. What’s the point of it all when I never had an opportunity to make a mistake? If I did one thing wrong, they would give up on me and send me to one home after another. I’ve always been fully exposed and had to walk in a line filled with sharp curves from disappointment to disappointment. Sorrow is my aura, and sadness hugs me tightly. It is hard to cry when my eyes are closed shut by the barbed wire fence of my eyelashes as they prohibit tears from falling. What’s the point of complicating my life? I am always back to where I started, and then ... I relive the same patterns, but on a more difficult journey. I believe when you put yourself in your own mess that you should clean it up and start over. What’s wrong with that? Nothing. However, when someone else puts you in their mess, you do not know how to clean up the mess they’ve made. You do not know how to start over because you do not know where to begin. I look at it this way; it is like telling a dead person he/she can start over. How so, when that person’s life no longer exists? I know my life isn’t over. However, I am lost in a maze my mom set up for herself—and she too is lost in her own maze. When a person gets lost in their own maze, they are really fucked up. However, this maze shouldn’t be left for me to figure out. Unfortunately, I am in it, and I have to find my way out one way or another. What’s the point of taking Kace from me? He was safe and in good hands. Now he is worse off with people who are abusing him. He didn’t ask for this—I didn’t either. He deserves so much better. Again, what is the point of it all? What’s the point of making me suffer? Do you get a kick out of it? What are you trying to accomplish? I am trying to understand; what is the point of it all? What is the point? I don’t know why I am here.
Charlena E. Jackson (Pinwheels and Dandelions)
An enormous range of advice has been offered from a religious perspective to those who suffer, and it seems clear that no single response can satisfy everyone; what comforts one person inevitably strikes someone else as outrageous. Consider the Book of Job as an example. For me, one of the unsatisfying things about the Book of Job is that, in the end, God rewards Job. Leave aside the question of whether new children can compensate for the loss of his original ones. Why does God restore Job’s fortunes at all? Why the happy ending? One of the basic messages of the book is that virtue isn’t always rewarded; bad things happen to good people. Job ultimately accepts this, demonstrating virtue, and is subsequently rewarded. Doesn’t this undercut the message?
Ted Chiang (Stories of Your Life and Others)
He was convinced that if the attack on Omando had caused such interest in the world it was not so much because of the victim’s importance, but because fear, resentment and repeated disillusion in the age of slavery and radiation death had in the end branded the hearts of millions of human beings with an edge of misanthropy, which made them follow with sympathy, and perhaps some feeling of personal re- venge, the story of '‘the man who had changed species.” He turned toward Laurent with sympathy. It was difficult not to like that generous, slightly sing-song voice, not to like that black giant who spoke so frankly about himself when he thought he was speaking only of the African fauna. inclined to a gentle skepticism which usually sufficed to protect him both against excessive illusions about human nature and against excessive doubt of it a sort of Saint Francis of Assisi, only more energetic, more dashing, more muscular he had the greatest respect for humor, because it was one of the best weapons ever forged by man for the struggle against himself. devoured by some ravenous dream of hygiene and universal health who desperately pursue a certain ideal of human decency, call it tolerance, justice or liberty The idea, too, that people who have suffered too much aren’t any longer capable of ... of complicity with you, for that’s what it amounts to. That they aren’t any longer capable of playing ball with us. The idea that they’ve somehow been spoiled once for all. It was partly on account of this idea that the German theorists of racialism preached the extermination of the Jews; they had been made to suffer too much, and therefore they could not be anything after that but enemies of the human race. A man can’t spend his life in Africa without acquiring something pretty close to a great affection for the elephants. Those great herds are, after all, the last symbol of liberty left among us. It s something that’s fast disappearing, from more points of view than one. Every time you come upon them in the open, moving their trunks and their great ears, an irresistible smile rises to your lips. I defy anyone to look upon elephants without a sense of wonder. Their very enormity, their, clumsiness, their giant stature, represent a mass of liberty that sets you dreaming. They’re . . . yes, they’re the last individuals. a trace of superiority, of condescension toward me, as though to point out to me that this was obviously something I could not understand, a private and secret world which I was not permitted to enter. Yes, there are some among us who are fighting for the independence of Africa. But why? To protect the elephants. To take the protection of African fauna into their own hands. Perhaps for them elephants are only an image of their own liberty. That suits me: liberty always suits me. Personally, I have no patience with nationalism: the new or the old, the white or the black, the red or the yellow. They aim between the eyes, just because it’s big, free and beautiful. That’s what they call a fine shot. A trophy. people have been seized by such a need for friendship and company that the dogs can’t manage it. We’ve been asking too much of them. The job has broken them down— they’ve had it. Just think how long they’ve been doing their damnedest for us, wagging their tails and holding out their paws— they’ve had enough . . .’ It’s natural: they’ve seen too much. And the people feel lonely and deserted, and they need something bigger that can really take the strain. Dogs aren’t enough any more; men need elephants. ‘Look here, my friend, for three years I was a bus conductor in Paris. I recommend it during rush hours; it gave me what you might call a knowledge of human nature— a good, solid knowledge which prompted me to change sides and go over to the elephants. there was around him an air of authenticity impossible to disregard: the authenticity of sheer physical nobility
Gary Romain
Others have argued that moral virtue in and by itself will naturally bring happiness in its train. Plato, for instance, argues that the moral integrity of the virtuous individual constitutes a sort of inner harmony, which he contrasts with the disharmony exhibited by the wicked. Since a person cannot fail, at some level, to experience this internal condition, the virtuous will be fundamentally content, while those who lack virtue will be unavoidably dissatisfied. Plato’s conclusion is endorsed by most of the classical thinkers who came after him. The Stoics in particular insistently emphasize the supreme importance of moral virtue over all other good things. Thus Marcus Aurelius, echoing Socrates, insists that the only real harm one can ever suffer is harm to one’s character,1 while Seneca asserts that “virtue per se is sufficient for a happy life.”2 Hard-bitten cynics may think it easy to dismiss all this as a kind of wishful thinking. But in fact this view—that good people should nearly always be considered more fortunate than those who lack the moral virtues—is very plausible. Compare two people: Jill, who genuinely feels pleasure at a colleague’s success, and Jane, who feels intense pleasure at a colleague’s failure. Who would you prefer to be? Most of us will of course opt to be Jill. An obvious reason for this is that we view her as the nicer person. But what if we put aside moral considerations? We grant that Jill is the more admirable person, but who do we think it is pleasanter to be? Plato’s thinking suggests that Jill’s condition is also the more enviable. One obvious reason is that, being a nicer person, she is likely to have more friends, to have better friends, to be more confident of their affection, and to enjoy relationships not sullied by resentment. But a subtler reason, not so easy to articulate, is that Jill’s generous-spirited pleasure in another person’s good fortune is superior to—and not just in moral terms—the mean-spirited enjoyment of a colleague’s failure. Of course, it is not easy to abstract this sense of nonmoral superiority from its moral trappings. It is not a matter of the intensity or duration of the pleasure. But it is perhaps captured fairly well by Plato’s metaphor of inner harmony, a metaphor that extends beyond any particular moment of pleasure to take in the person’s total experience. Self-centered, cruel, mean-spirited individuals are never at ease with—in harmony with—themselves or the world, which is why they can never achieve lasting contentment. Generous spirits, by contrast, experience less conflict between what they in fact feel and what at least some part of them thinks they should feel; furthermore, there is less disharmony between what they experience as their inner reality and the way they present themselves to the world.
Emrys Westacott (The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Less Is More - More or Less)
Doing your best, you are going to live your life intensely. You are going to be productive, you are going to be good to yourself, because you will be giving yourself to your family, to your community, to everything. But it is the action that is going to make you feel intensely happy. When you always do your best, you take action. Doing your best is taking the action because you love it, not because you’re expecting a reward. Most people do exactly the opposite: They only take action when they expect a reward, and they don’t enjoy the action. And that’s the reason why they don’t do their best. For example, most people go to work every day just thinking of payday, and the money they will get from the work they are doing. They can hardly wait for Friday or Saturday, whatever day they receive their money and can take time off. They are working for the reward, and as a result they resist work. They try to avoid the action and it becomes more difficult, and they don’t do their best. They work so hard all week long, suffering the work, suffering the action, not because they like to, but because they feel they have to. They have to work because they have to pay the rent, because they have to support their family. They have all that frustration, and when they do receive their money they are unhappy. They have two days to rest, to do what they want to do, and what
Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom)
An obsession and overinvestment in emotion fails us for the simple reason that emotions never last. Whatever makes us happy today will no longer make us happy tomorrow, because our biology always needs something more. A fixation on happiness inevitably amounts to a never-ending pursuit of “something else”—a new house, a new relationship, another child, another pay raise. And despite all of our sweat and strain, we end up feeling eerily similar to how we started: inadequate. Psychologists sometimes refer to this concept as the “hedonic treadmill”: the idea that we’re always working hard to change our life situation, but we actually never feel very different. This is why our problems are recursive and unavoidable. The person you marry is the person you fight with. The house you buy is the house you repair. The dream job you take is the job you stress over. Everything comes with an inherent sacrifice—whatever makes us feel good will also inevitably make us feel bad. What we gain is also what we lose. What creates our positive experiences will define our negative experiences. This is a difficult pill to swallow. We like the idea that there’s some form of ultimate happiness that can be attained. We like the idea that we can alleviate all of our suffering permanently. We like the idea that we can feel fulfilled and satisfied with our lives forever. But we cannot.
Mark Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life)
Yes, there was suspicion in the eyes of all. Obviously, they were thinking, there must be some good reason for the isolation inflicted on them, and they had the air of people who are puzzling over their problem and are afraid. Everyone Tarrou set eyes on had that vacant gaze and was visibly suffering from the complete break with all that life had meant to him. And since they could not be thinking of their death all the time, they thought of nothing. They were on vacation. “But worst of all,” Tarrou writes, “is that they’re forgotten, and they know it. Their friends have forgotten them because they have other things to think about, naturally enough. And those they love have forgotten them because all their energies are devoted to making schemes and taking steps to get them out of the camp. And by dint of always thinking about these schemes and steps they have ceased thinking about those whose release they’re trying to secure. And that, too, is natural enough. In fact, it comes to this: nobody is capable of really thinking about anyone, even in the worst calamity. For really to think about someone means thinking about that person every minute of the day, without letting one’s thoughts be diverted by anything, by meals, by a fly that settles on one’s cheek, by household duties, or by a sudden itch somewhere. But there are always flies and itches. That’s why life is difficult to live. And these people know it only too well.
Albert Camus (The Plague)
The other great obstacle to abandoning oneself to Divine Providence is the presence of suffering, in our own lives as in the world around us. Even for those who abandon themselves to Him, God permits suffering; He leaves them wanting of certain things, in a manner sometimes painful. Think of the poverty in which the family of young Bernadette of Lourdes lived. Isn’t this a contradiction of the words of the Gospel? No, because the Lord can leave us wanting relative to certain things (sometimes judged indispensable in the eyes of the world), but He never leaves us deprived of what is essential: His presence, His peace and all that is necessary for the complete fulfillment of our lives, according to His plans for us. If He permits suffering, then it is our strength to believe, as Thérèse of Lisieux says, that “God does not permit unnecessary suffering.” In the domain of our personal lives, as in that of the history of the world, we must be convinced, if we want to go to the limits of our Christian faith, that God is sufficiently good and powerful to use whatever evil there may be, as well as any suffering however absurd and unnecessary it may appear to be, in our favor. We cannot have any mathematical or philosophical certitude of this; it can only be an act of faith. But it is precisely to this act of faith that we are invited by the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus, understood and received as the definitive victory of God over evil. Evil is a mystery, a scandal and it will always be so. It is necessary to do what one can to eliminate it, to relieve suffering, but it always remains present in our personal lives, as well as in the world. Its place in the economy of redemption reveals the wisdom of God, which is not the wisdom of man; it always retains something incomprehensible. …for My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are My ways above your ways and My thoughts above your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). At certain moments in life, a Christian is necessarily invited to believe in the contradiction of appearances and to hope against all hope (Romans 4:18). There are inevitably circumstances where we cannot understand the “why” of God’s activity because it is no longer the wisdom of man, a wisdom within our capacity to understand and explain by human intelligence. Rather it is divine Wisdom, mysterious and incomprehensible, that thus intervenes.
Jacques Philippe (Searching for and Maintaining Peace)
Commentators, journalists, and, on exceptionally clear days, their audiences are beginning to wonder why it is that with fatal environmental problems bearing down upon us, with global warming threatening agriculture and our minimal ability to feed ourselves, the rich and powerful aren’t more actively attempting to remedy the situation. Worse, why do they so often seem to want to do just the opposite of what is required? This question is easy to answer if we understand the psychology of the capitalist. Easy and disturbing. The logic of capitalism acknowledges that there will be destructive consequences for its activities. Economists even have a name for it: negative externality. This is also known as “externalizing cost” when it comes time for somebody other than the perpetrator to pay for the damage. It is a secular form of what the generals call “collateral damage,” which means that the wrong person got blown up. Or, as one might say, “We didn’t mean to pollute the river with coal ash. We were only pursuing private prosperity and personal happiness. In the meantime, we’re glad to have someone else pay to fix it.” But what do you do when it’s not a river - when it’s a whole world that has been trashed? Are taxpayers going to have to pay for a new planet? So the oligarchs and their minions, the so-called 1 percent, aren’t missing anything. They’re not stupid. If they choose to do nothing about looming global catastrophe, it is because they don’t want to do anything. And they do not want to do anything because the threat of destruction is, frankly, not persuasive to them. Those who benefit from capitalism understand that it has always depended on suffering, and they have confidence that if someone is to suffer it won’t be them. “Let the songbirds suffer in my place,” they say. “Or those fucking - what do they call ‘em - manatees. There’s only about ten of them left anyway. And, we admit, the miscellaneous poor will suffer, here and in those faraway countries, but why shouldn’t they suffer? Look at them! They’re rather good at it. Besides, the humans could use a little downsizing.” Pereat mundus, dum ego salvus sim!
Curtis White (We, Robots: Staying Human in the Age of Big Data)
Doing your best, you are going to live your life intensely. You are going to be productive, you are going to be good to yourself, because you will be giving yourself to your family, to your community, to everything. But it is the action that is going to make you feel intensely happy. When you always do your best, you take action. Doing your best is taking the action because you love it, not because you’re expecting a reward. Most people do exactly the opposite: They only take action when they expect a reward, and they don’t enjoy the action. And that’s the reason why they don’t do their best. For example, most people go to work every day just thinking of payday, and the money they will get from the work they are doing. They can hardly wait for Friday or Saturday, whatever day they receive their money and can take time off. They are working for the reward, and as a result they resist work. They try to avoid the action and it becomes more difficult, and they don’t do their best. They work so hard all week long, suffering the work, suffering the action, not because they like to, but because they feel they have to. They have to work because they have to pay the rent, because they have to support their family. They have all that frustration, and when they do receive their money they are unhappy. They have two days to rest, to do what they want to do, and what do they do? They try to escape. They get drunk because they don’t like themselves. They don’t like their life. There are many ways that we hurt ourselves when we don’t like who we are. On the other hand, if you take action just for the sake of doing it, without expecting a reward, you will find that you enjoy every action you do. Rewards will come, but you are not attached to the reward. You can even get more than you would have imagined for yourself without expecting a reward. If we like what we do, if we always do our best, then we are really enjoying life. We are having fun, we don’t get bored, we don’t have frustrations.
Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom)