We humans are emotionally fragile creatures; we are susceptible to pain, and inept at dealing with it. This frailty of ours causes us to be prudent when dealing with others: we are reluctant to form arbitrary bonds, and more often than not keep our defenses up. When we do open up, however, we find that those closest to us become our Achilles heel. And that the pain inflicted by them engraves the deepest of scars. Even when the agony subsides, the scars remain a source of shame. It is quite poetic really, although pain is but a part of being human we fear it and suppress it, putting on a mask to fool the masses and make ourselves seem perfect. We fail to see that although it may seem like an external evil, pain is actually what makes us who we are.
Most of us learn very early on that pain usually accompanies love. For to love someone is to empower him/her over your emotions. This is self-evident: when you lose a loved one you experience pain, when you are forsaken by a loved one you experience pain, and when you hurt a loved one you experience pain. It is the human paradox that those closest to us, our guardians against pain, would inflict the most pain on us. But we never learn, just as moths never learn that the light is dangerous, we continue to love. It is our fatal flaw – the fatal flaw of all social creatures – that we cannot live without intimacy. And since we can’t avoid pain, all we can do is suppress it in hopes that society does not deem us “broken” or “dysfunctional.”
Although it is easy to claim that pain is schismatic, such an assertion is at best specious; pain does not divide, it unites because it is a universal language. Gangs, tribes, and even communities are established on the foundation that everyone in the group has experienced similar circumstances, and thus similar pain. With language you can speak to a person, but only with pain as a commonality can true understanding occur. It is as James Baldwin wrote, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” We see this perfectly in books, movies, songs and even poetry sometimes. The realness of a character is usually directly associated with the pain the character has gone through; because pain is such a universal thing, a character without pain or flaws seems plain to us. We as humans want to experience characters who are real, whose problems are similar to our own, and whose struggles are tangible to us. We do not want ones who are perfect or all-powerful, because no one can relate to that, it may be fun to dream about being able to…but the truth is none of us are pain-free.
To us imprudent, maladroit, faux-intelligentsias, pain is something shameful. We see it as a thing that accentuates our weaknesses and brings them to light. Of course, due to our self-aggrandizing nature, we despise feeling weak or yielding to anything – even if it is pain. With such a primitive view of the world, of course pain would seem like a pernicious ailment, but the truth is far from what we have been led to believe; we should not be ashamed of our pain. We should be proud: our scars are a testament to what we have endured through, and to the growth we have undergone. Because whilst the process of embracing pain may be a very difficult one, it is also very fruitful. After all it is only through pain that we humans learn the importance of one another; we learn that our communities are not simply aggregates of our weaknesses, but rather that they are cohesive, supplementary units that allow us to complement, and complete one another.