Monday, November 26, 2012

Pain and Suffering

I'm convinced there's a bit of masochist in all of us...

It's not that I have a low opinion of humanity I think it's just human nature if not biology to need a bit a suffering to validate our accomplishments.  Think about it.  Without pain we can't know pleasure.  Without a challenge, victory isn't so sweet now is it. 

That's not to say that wanton suffering is a good thing.  Suffering for no good reason is the definition of masochism.  If there's a goal to reach, however, it's perfectly reasonable to endure a bit of pain.

That's one of the reasons I hate cheaters in multiplayer games.  They add needless suffering for their own selfish ends.  It may be fun to dominate everyone else for a few hours but after awhile it just gets boring.  Unless that's your idea of fun.  In which case you'd be exhibiting some sociopathic tendencies. 
In which case, I'm keeping an eye on the kiddies when you're around...

There was a line I remember from the movie "The Matrix" and I think of it often.  Agent Smith was interrogating Morpheus and made the following commentary on humanity.

"Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery"

Agent Smith's premise was good but he paints with a bit of a wide brush.  If we weren't meant to endure some pain we wouldn't have any nerve endings.  We'd just aimlessly walk around stumbling into traffic and occasionally ending up in wood chippers without a care in the world.  We wouldn't have as clear a grasp on consequences either and I'm fairly certain the human race would have been nothing more than a fossil record by now.  In Star Trek 5, Kirk said it best...

"Damn it, Bones, you're a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They're the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away! I need my pain!"

We're programmed to value our victories more when they aren't so easy to obtain.  We've all wished at some point that we were rich or got paid to do nothing.  The reality is that most of us wouldn't be idle for long.  It's more likely you'd find something to challenge you even if you didn't have to worry about paying the bills anymore.

In the case of Bernie Madoff, his challenge was to not get caught, hence my earlier sociopath example...

Hopefully your motives would be more pure but it ultimately comes down to the same thing.  We're just  not happy unless we're striving for something.  It could be your career, a favorite project, a game or even just surviving to a ripe old age.  All of it involves a challenge and like it or not challenge and pain are synonymous terms.

Nothing has value to us unless we "pay the price."  So long as it's a fair price there's no problem just be sure it's worthwhile.  Otherwise we end up being martyrs and masochists which is just unnecessary pain.