Dec 17 2006

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PAIN = PUNISHMENT (according to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary)

PAIN = PUNISHMENT (according to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary)

Anyone who has ever suffered any form of pain, either physical or mental, has probably asked themselves Why? Why me? What the hell did I ever do to deserve this pain? Maybe that is why Webster’s equates pain to punishment? I found the definition to be not what I expected. There are three or four sub answers to Pain in the dictionary. All of them equated somewhat to a basis of punishment.

Perhaps it is the fear of punishment that causes pain? We as a species have evolved equating and inflicting pain as a punishment for something we or others have done wrong. How often has it been said : “He or she is being punished because they are evil” or “God is preparing their spirit” or some other absurd religious reasoning for pain and suffering? We hurt because: we’ve broken, bruised , cut ourselves, or became infected by some physical or mental disease. We die because we were in the wrong place at the wrong time, got poisoned, murdered, neglected our health, became careless , drove drunk, got shot, got beat up and died of the injuries. There are many more logical, reasons for dying and hurting than there are religious reasons; yet many people prefer to blame God or Fate, or someone else for their pain and suffering. It is much easier to deny our own faults.

I have so often done one thing or another to cause myself pain or to cause pain to someone else. I understand that I have done these things to myself, and others by myself. God had nothing to do with it. He might have had something to do with the healing process, but I could never blame him for my own stupidity. If I was born slow or retarded then I could blame genetics. I’m not saying that my parents were stupid, nor am I claiming that title either. However all human beings know and understand the results of pain. Pain Hurts! Any living creature knows this. Is pain punishment, injustice, imbalance, or is it a fabricated reality? Is pain simply a form of tyranny of the conscious mind? We are always unconscious of pain when we sleep soundly. Sleep may be artificially induced, or naturally produced by us simply being tired. I have often gone to sleep with either a sore back, or a headache, or thinking about some disturbing event that happened during the day. The minute my eyes close to rest, the body knows it is time to rest ; then my subconscious takes over, and I either dream or not dream, but I am without pain.

I have read many books and articles on pain management and reduction and all seem to promote one major theme. That theme is relaxation. Try to relax, breath deeply , rest, try to keep your mind unstressed. I’ve found these things to work for a while, until the phone rings or I get bad news from someone, or something else disturbs my peace.

Back pain, tooth pain, leg pain, headache, arm pain, eye pain, foot pain, finger pain, neck pain, hip pain, toe pain, gas pain, anxiety related pain, stress related pain, knee pain, ear pain, nose and sinus pain, elbow pain, ass pain, muscle pains , and lastly, genital pain. I may have missed a few, but I think I got the point across. If we relate punishment with pain how does this religiously inspired system work? Are women punished for giving birth? Is every new born punished for being born? Some religions think so.

If there is a punishment doled out from God for every sin or folly of man then how is it administered? Is a lie punished by a headache? Is a murder punished by the murderer’s death, or amputation of a limb? Is a slanderous statement punished by a toothache? Is viewing pornography or violence or something obscene punished by a headache or blindness or intense eye strain? Someone might think guilt would be their punishment; but what if someone feels no guilt for something they have done wrong? Then he receives no punishment.

Man has created all forms of punishment for himself and others simply out of his own sense of justice. Society collectively understands the correcting powers of pain in use of governing itself and defending itself. But that is based upon human physical and mental reactions to avert problems. Pain is the great equalizer and ruler. It favors no one. Pain is the great aversion , so much so that it is also considered by many as an odd form of pleasure.

Why do we as a species seem to harbor a special place in our psyche that enjoys pain; either pain inflicted on others or on ourselves? This is Masochism and Sadism. Many enjoy watching a boxing match as two opponents pummel each other into unconsciousness. Many people enjoy the violent games of Hockey and Football and Extreme Fighting, or Professional Wrestling. Why? What thrill do we really derive from these forms of entertainment? Blood sports are and have always been the most popular forms of entertainment for the majority of societies, world wide, throughout history. As a child and young man I enjoyed and engaged in many of these sports.

I enjoyed the competition and the full body contact of the sports. I enjoyed running and skating and hitting and falling down, the chasing and fear of getting hit too hard. I enjoyed the feeling of being smarter, braver, gaining attention, feeling superior or inferior depending on the outcome of the game or my own performance. I guess these needs are what drive us and make us human? Getting hit or falling always hurts, no pain no gain. Sports are strange, but they allow us to vent our aggressions in legally and socially accepted ways; by inflicting pain on ourselves and others.

Self inflicted pain seems to be on the rise in the 21st century. Adults and children are indulging in self mutilation, cutting themselves to feel the pain. They tempt death and injury by extreme sports or extreme sexual practices, pain induced orgasms, genital piercings, bondage and sexual sacrifices, rape, gang rape. All are gaining in popularity. Drug addiction, anorexia, bulimia, and gluttony, are all self induced painful, pleasure, experiences. Is this God’s punishment or is it our punishment on ourselves; because we have lost our way, our control, our sense of balance, and believe that pain will punish us into submission, allow us to find happiness? Is pain also pleasure? We cannot blame anyone but ourselves for punishing ourselves. We cannot blame anyone but ourselves for punishing our children or allowing them to hurt themselves. They learn to act or react to pain from adults, they learn from schools; that are built by and administered by adults and lessons taught by adults. If a child lacks attention they will cry out in many ways. They create good or bad attention towards themselves because it achieves their same desire, which is attention. If inflicting pain upon themselves or others creates the attention or pleasure they desire, then they will continue doing whatever it is they do, even if it kills them or someone else.

I have decided that pain is not punishment. This is where Webster is wrong. Pain is a warning to tell us that something is wrong with us that must be corrected. In this way it is a blessing. Pain is simply a warning mechanism that will cease or not depending upon the will of the individual to either continue or cease the practice of whatever is causing the pain. If we shut off the pain sensors in our body it is like shutting off a smoke alarm or any other sensor that gives us warning of a problem.

Humanity cannot exist without some form of temporary pain. Life is too perilous without warning systems. Infants and the most elderly in any society stay alive by successfully avoiding or managing pain. It can be done. Millions if not billions prove it every day. Pain is not punishment, it is an instrument we are all born with each with lower and higher tolerances to it. Pain is an instrument that if used and understood properly can be one of the greatest gifts to humanity and if it is used improperly can become humanity’s greatest oppressor. If we ignore our own pain or the pain of others and delight in hatred and the inflicting of pain; then death or permanent damage will be the result to ourselves and to our society, and our punishment will be harsh and self inflicted.


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