I was browsing through Star Wars posts as a nerd does when I came across this image of anon harassment. Normally the malicious words of immature internet users do not phase me. But for some reason this line of threats inspired me to speak out on a very important subject.
This pattern of misdirected anger and zealous vindication is something that pervades our every day lives and causes suffering on a global scale… At the heart of humanity lies a forsaken pariah. Each and everyone is this pariah and shares its pain. I know of no person who does not feel alone, who hasn’t been wronged by the world and kicked to the curb without the slightest hint of compassion. Perhaps you are subject to racial or sexual prejudice on a daily basis, maybe your family life was full of merciless abuse and neglect, or the career you’ve invested most of your life in was taken from you and the system designed to provide you financial security has left you penniless.
Bottom line we’ve all been fucked over, we are all getting fucked over on a regular basis, and we all struggle with an unsympathetic world toward our struggle. The question is what do we do with this pain? Raised in a society that emphasizes good triumphing evil via the exercise of justice and vindication the natural go to for many is a lashing out at something that represents their unjust pain. This can manifest in an infinite number of ways; violent anonymous comments on the Internet, passive aggressive communication with family members, even actual violence taken against a place or person.
Unfortunately this impulse to enact “justice”, attacking whatever represents the pain in our current experience of life overlooks the fundamental purpose of pain. Biologically speaking, pain is sensory experience that teaches us “Don’t do that”. If something is damaging to your physical being, the unpleasantness of pain reminds you to avoid the behavior. This is no different from emotional pain which alerts you to experiences which damage your emotional being.
Because of this I’ve only ever seen pain followed by one of two experiences; One, the individual learns from the pain, processes the experience, and uses what they learned to enhance themselves and their interactions with others. Two, the individual refuses to confront and analyze the pain, then repeatedly experiences and recreates the pain until they learn and move beyond the pattern. This can manifest either in the individual creating the same dysfunctional life patterns again and again, or becoming an abuser and recreating their trauma by directing it at others.
In terms of learning from pain on a sociological level, perhaps it is good to take a step back and analyze our situations from a third person perspective. Let’s say you feel pain because your ethnicity is constantly subject to prejudice, and being born this way people have both said and done horrible things to you. The behavior causing pain, the “don’t do that” experience, is the act of verbal and physical abuse. If we repeat the cycle of pain by either internalizing and repeating dysfunction or externalizing and abusing others, writing violent comments in response to “injustice” like the above only perpetuates your own suffering. (Now many of us know this, and those writing shit like this aren’t reading this, but this example isn’t the point of the post.)
Pain is a learning tool, and doesn’t have to be a miserable aspect of existence. I’m not telling anyone not to stand up for themselves, and I’m not telling you that you can’t stand up for what you believe in. But we can all benefit from an honest evaluation of our angers and the pains attached to them, for if we don’t learn from our mistakes we are doomed to suffer in the anguish of the past. Next time you feel yourself getting upset and angry sit with and explore your anger rather than impulsively act on it. More often than not you’ll discover patterns that have been running amuck in your life for years without your knowing.