Why keep suffering?

The other day I asked a wise older mentor of mine how he might express why suffering is worthwhile to someone who does not consider there to be anything redemptive about it.

This mentor then discussed how, apart from the perspectives of any religious tradition, it is possible to see the example that those who suffer give to the young, the healthy, the strong.

How does the sufferer respond to his suffering? By whom is he accompanied? What message does he, by how he suffers, send about how to handle the disappointments and drama of life?

In the first chapter of his new book, Beyond Order, Jordan Peterson says, “People exist among other people and not as purely individual minds. An individual does not have to be that well put together if he or she can remain at least minimally acceptable in behaviour to others. Simply put: we outsource the problem of sanity. People remain mentally healthy not merely because of the integrity of their own minds, but because they are constantly being reminded how to think, act, and speak by those around them.”

Later, Peterson goes on to discuss how “the provision of social support, as much or more than its receipt, [provides protective benefits against disease and earlier mortality.]

If people did exist as purely individual minds, it would be more difficult to see any value in a person’s protracted suffering. However, a person always exists as an individual in a community and, being such, he or she is always giving and being given an example of some kind.

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