Where there is life there is pain

There is great pain in the world today. I just came from the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), called by some the “rape capital of the world.” There, that pain is heard in the cry of the girl, the young woman, the grandmother: “Where was God when this was happening to me?”

There is great pain in the world today, whole communities rendered mute and powerless, ground into the dirt, under the great weight of a burden of pain. We invest in international development, micro-enterprises, human capital, but how can a people really develop if they are in a perpetual state of post- and present– traumatic stress?

There is great pain the world today. Consider its causes, and how many places in the world where those are present:

  • Political wars (North Africa, for example)
  • Ethnic conflict (Sri Lanka)
  • Natural disaster (floods in Thailand, tsunami in Japan)
  • Economic dislocation and unease (US, Europe)
  • Sexual violence (DR Congo)
  • Trafficking (too long a list to single out an example)
  • HIV/AIDS (leaving a trail of orphans and lost potential)

I write this from Rwanda, where the consequences of the genocide — now fifteen years ago! — manifest themselves in ways described as:

  • Demons
  • “Being collapsed in on oneself,” not able to bathe, care for oneself or even for children
  • Self-medication thru substance abuse
  • Anger
  • Hatred
  • Self-destructive behavior

Economic growth and financial success are not long-term antidotes to emotional and spiritual trauma. Bring to mind any of your “favorite” celebrity family for evidence of that. Investors beware — economic growth disconnected from cultural rifts and unaddressed PTSD puts that investment at risk. A job helps, but it cannot cover up festering rage, anxiety or despair.

There is pain in the world today, and it blocks those who suffer from it from achieving spiritual and cultural and economic wholeness. The pain in the world costs us all, not just those who suffer from it. To live life is to know pain; to ignore pain is to block life’s signals for growth. Development doesn’t bring healing, but healing can bring development.

(NEXT POST: From Pain to Purpose).


~ by John Walter on November 9, 2011.

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