We destroy the diversity of the Earth’s vegetation by replacing it by monocultures like sweetcorn, wheat, palm trees or soy to feed us with the unfavorable outcome of chronic illnesses falling on our backs exactly now during this so-called corona pandemic.
We humans have this questionable trait that we amuse ourselves by watching the suffering of others. Be it monkeys in chains in entertainment parks, horses trodding in the heat pulling carriages with people.
People are looking down upon others they consider minor due their social upbringing, their religion, their skin color, their passports, their unusual behavior … a long list of characteristics that established asocial behavior as normal behavior to justify the suffering of others for the own benefit.
What becomes quite visible to me right now while I started this process of organizing my thoughts is that as a matter of fact suffering is a messy topic, a frazzled term. It is definitely a subject without an affirmative answer.
Instead the process of thinking about it creates a list of undecidable questions accompanied by endless discourses, disputes or collision of mindsets up to wars.
I love to travel the world. It’s our third week of restrictions here in Austria and I am suffering by not being able to leave the country, by not being able to move the way I like. Quite coquettish to call this suffering. So what is it, we call suffering?
Are we suffering due to the Corona pandemic because of the social constraints put on us, or the fear to come down with the infection and die or the economic aftermaths? I definitely did not think really deeply about this topic when I forwarded this title to the editing room.
Isn’t suffering about reducing a specie's space to move, about building walls and fences, taking away the environment of others for oneself?
We have zoos to safe species from extinction we deprived of the natural habitat beforehand.
We enslave chickens, kettle and pigs as it suits our appetite. Billions are in pain and suffer as I write down these lines. We kill them ruthlessly either for food or if they are sick. Just remember the bird flu or BSE. And we put whole peoples under constraints. Just think about our political discussion about migration and refugees.
We put trees into boxes, encase them and move them around at will that they donate us their cooling shadow during the hot season. Trees grow slowly, their way of moving is not horizontal but primarily vertical. They connect with their companions via their roots and enzymes they release. Fungi are integral part of this communication process.
Do you think that creatures under this kind of constraint are thriving creatures? As long as respect and compassion is not the highest ranking good transgressing all borders of the living and the non-living suffering is in the world like daily bread.
For me personally sufferings stand more for a view on the life of the other. The specificity of suffering depends on the culture it flourishes in. The term mirrors the morals of a society, it therefore is a cultural category, not connecting but disconnecting us.
Good examples are the disputes we have on human and animal rights and the wars we fight about resources or religion.
Is it legitimate at all to consider myself as one who is suffering?
Is suffering not much more the observers judgment and pain the feeling of the affected, an attribute we allocate to other beings regardless of the species?
For me time seems to be closely connected to suffering. If pain takes a certain course, extends over a long enough time span, then we the observers as being positioned on a standpoint start talking about suffering.
There is a consensus and there is obvious evidence within a culture what is considered as to be livable conditions. In the worlds of our different cultures suffering changes color. This applies to humans, animals and plants. All of them can suffer, it’s us who give the label. As the individual itself, herself, himself experiences the pain.
What is the difference between pain and suffering though?
Is it a feature of life - be it plants, animals or humans - to experience the state of suffering and pain. Are these two conditions interrelated, intertwined, a couple not to separate from each other? Or is it maybe a split that came into the world because our culture differentiates between body and soul? Is it an artificial schism?