Aug 14, 2016

Relative Sorrows

Writer Leah Gebber puts it this way:
"I have a moral objection to the game of one-upmanship some play when faced with difficulty.  I once covered a story about a woman who had three children and was unable to have more.  Her sorrow touched upon more than her dreams of having a large family; she questioned her role in life, the core of her femininity.  Some of the letters we received astounded me.  One such missive, I have no children - how can she complain when she has three? What gives her the right?
"I mentally played with many responses to this question.  That no one has a patent on suffering.  That sorrow, no matter the root, is sorrow ..."
So it's all the same - a teenager agonizing about a pimple and a teenager hearing bad news from her oncologist? I have a moral objection to that!
It's one of the many lessons children need to be taught that problems and suffering need to be viewed within a context, with a sense of proportion.  Breaking a toy and breaking's one back are not equal, no matter how beloved the toy was.   
It seems that just as the trend for some time now has been to futilely try to eradicate differences among children, telling them they are all winners when they are not, so too, even some adults refuse to acknowledge that there are matters of lesser and greater importance.  The old gauge, what is it on a scale of 1-10 is very helpful.  See here

Back to the example that Leah Gebber gives.  The woman with three children can be asked to contemplate where on the scale she is.  If she says she is a 10 in sorrow, she can be asked to think about where then, a woman with no children, would fit on the scale.  Her response might be, the woman with no children is a 10 of sorrow on her scale, and I'm a 10 on my scale.  Hmmm.  And would she say the same when asked, where would the Israeli, Mr Hatuel, whose pregnant wife and all four daughters were murdered in one day be on the scale? Then we, society, have a problem.

It's not to say that the feelings of the woman with three children who can't have more should be dismissed.  They can be acknowledged.  A child who is sad about his drawing that was ripped by the baby should also have his feelings validated.  Maturity is needed to regard the disappointments in life with the proper perspective.

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