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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

 
Why are so many Americans in love with causing pain?

by David Atkins

Why do so many Americans feel so strongly that pain is morally good?

Assisted suicide is in the news again after Stephen Hawking came out in support of it. For some reason it remains a controversial question whether people wracked with terminal illnesses should be able to bring an end to their own suffering. Apparently many Americans feel it's the the greater moral good for dying people to spend an extra few months excruciatingly experiencing every organ failure until a painful, convulsing release finally sets them free. Why is that?

Then there are the Americans who believe that unless food stamps are eliminated, poor people won't be suffering enough to take horrible jobs. Never mind that even horrible jobs are often unavailable, or that society shouldn't be encouraging the existence of awful jobs with terrible pay. There are many Americans who believe that the suffering itself is an intrinsic value, part of some cosmic justice that applies to people who didn't have rich parents, or didn't happen to make that one lucky friendship, or had to take care of a sick family member as a teenager at the expense of their studies. Why do so many Americans feel that their fellow Americans should be starved into waving signs on street corners at $5/hour rather than receive help to get back on their feet? What psychosis leads to that belief?

Then there are the Americans who seem to be just fine with a police culture that treats even minor incidents as an opportunity to deal out incredibly painful doses of electric shock via taser. What cruel perversion is that?

And then, of course, there is the new acceptance of outright torture as a method of preventing terrorism. Don't we need to question how exactly that happened?

What is it in the American psyche that seems to be in love with the idea of forced pain as an instrument of terrestrial and divine justice?

Whatever it is, the country could use a collective therapist. Our obsession with causing and enduring pain isn't a healthy one.


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