Happy and Suffering: Gary Talks Back!

My friend Gary responds to my four-part series of musings on happiness and suffering (Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV) wherein I used him as a foil, because he just happens to hold the opposing view.

[disclaimer: these remarks are not to be construed as a full rebuttal from Gary. He sent them as comments, but since I’m traveling, I thought I’d use them to post an entry without actually having to write one. Thanks and Happy New Year, Gary!]

This is what Gary had to say:

Hm. I wonder exactly how “areligious” I am. My nominally Episcopalian parents raised us in an environment of general religious apathy. I suppose I am an atheist. I don’t have a well considered view on it. Yet I don’t know that I can completely disclaim a trickle-down, Calvinist influence. I AM from New England, you know!

Couple of points:
There’s a western liberal tendency to assume hardship must be uprooted wherever we find it. That’s just not possible. Suffering is part of the human condition. It can never be eliminated. Assuming we must keep trying is a waste of effort and resources. In fact, this urgent need to “do something” leads us to keep taking on disproportionate burdens without regard to actual results. Tell me why this is not problematic.

Thanks for acknowledging my integrity to soften the blow of calling me spoiled (yeah, I know it’s true), but you do see that you tacitly claimed a superior moral authority for people who have suffered, by pointing to differences in the relative exposure to hardship?

By the way, Radhika says not to assume I don’t, in fact, find her “insufferable” (I disclaim any responsibility for or involvement in that statement — just passing it along).

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