The U.S. has been affected by three hurricanes and a mass shooting in the last several weeks. These are only the tragedies that make for news ratings. There are countless, untold tragedies affecting individuals and their families that occur everyday. Incapacitating illness, death, betrayal, economic loss. Suffering and loss are grievous burdens. They take their toll on all of us, especially if it is our loved ones who suffer and we can do nothing to alleviate their pain.
What makes it even more difficult in our twenty-first century is that we have lost a great deal of our ability to endure suffering and hardship. Advances in medicine alleviate many great evils that have afflicted humanity throughout history. The eradication of crippling diseases. The prolongation of lifespans. We are trained to end pain as quickly as possible. A headache requires little else than an acetaminophen tablet and a glass of water. In minutes the pain is gone. Psychologically, we are not equipped to endure prolonged pain. Microwavable meals. On demand access to entertainment, on our phones wherever we are. Our whims and desires met at a moment’s notice anywhere, anytime. So when tragedy strikes, we are not equipped with patience and fortitude.