Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ruminations on Suffering - A Dialogue

I've always had somewhat of an aptitude for dialectic, and so I've composed a few theatrical scripts and philosophical dialogues in my time. But I've never actually posted one of these dialogues on my blog. I intend to change that. 

What follows is my attempt to project the philosophical views I've held at different times onto paper, so as to better understand how these perspectives relate to each other. To do this, I've invented two personas: Philip Delacroix and Ezekiel Snider. By their exchange, I hope that both their characters and their philosophical backgrounds become developed enough to judge rightly. Let me know how I do.

Also, know that neither of these charactes is a reflection of me, per se. I am not as despairing as Philip is, and I only make him so because it seemed right for his character.

Philip Delacroix is standing in a park. Dressed in shabby clothes and donning a mop of long untidy hair, he walks hesitantly along a gravel path until he arrives at a bench. There sits a man dressed in a tweed bow-tie outfit, looking intensely off into space. Philip is about to pass him, when he says...

Ezekiel Snider: Excuse me!

Philip does a double take, but then notices the man.

Philip Delacroix: Sorry?
ES: You were about to spoil a magnificent view! Please desist from crossing my line of sight.
PD: Oh, sorry...

Philip goes to move behind the bench.

ES: Wait! What's your name?
PD [Stopping]: Philip.
ES: Excellent. Mine's Ezekiel. How do you do?
PD: I'm...fine.

Philip goes to move again.

ES: Hold your metaphorical horses! You need to calm down.
PD [Stopping again]: Excuse me?
ES: You're obviously upset about something.
PD: What makes you say that?
ES: You've given a very audible sigh three times in our brief conversation. What's wrong?
PD: It's none of your business.

He moves away again, but is stopped by Ezekiel's umbrella.

ES: A debate! That's what you need.
PD: What?
ES: A good dose of dialectical exchange ought to do the trick. Always does for me.
PD: But I'm not interested in a debate.
ES: Doesn't matter. Now, here's a question: what is suffering?
PD: But I don't...
ES: Don't think! Just speak!
PD [sighing]: I said I wasn't interested!
ES: Fine. would argue that all pain and suffering are the result of being overly involved with particular things. The pain simply goes away if you learn to let go, and abandon yourself to the flow of time.

Philip sighs and shakes his head.

PD: And I guess you're free of all that, huh?
ES: What, suffering? Far from it! I still struggle with it every day.
PD: And what is suffering for you?
ES: That's a bit personal.
PD: Do you know what it's like to fail at everything you try? Do you know how it feels to be shunned by people you thought were your friends?
ES: No. 

A pregnant pause

ES: Do you?
PD [wincing]: It doesn't matter.

Philip goes to walk away again.

ES: Wait! Have you ever tried just relaxing? Being like the lilies of the field? Trusting your well-being to the hands of the morrow?
PD [Stopping again]: No.
ES: Why don't you try it?
PD: I don't want to. Who said suffering was a bad thing?

Another pause.

ES: Uh....most people?
PD: You don't understand.

Philip goes to walk away again.

ES: Hang on! What do you mean?

Philip sighs again

PD: I have become the person I am because I have suffered. If I abandoned it, I would lose everything that I hold dear.
ES: But you said it yourself - suffering is pain. You want pain?
PD: I want to grow and love, and pain's the only way that happens.

Ezekiel stops to think

ES: Growth I can understand. It's like a workout, right? You break muscle fibers to grow.
PD: I guess.
ES: But how can you love through pain?
PD: Pain is humility. When I am hurt, I learn to forget myself in favor of others. I remember that I am only a sinner, just like everyone else. That's the great equalizer.
ES: But you are a child of God! You're glorious!
PD: I'm wretched. That makes me glorious..

Philip pauses, and looks off into the distance.

PD: I've got to go.
ES: Alright. That wouldn't be a bad idea.

Philip goes to leave

ES: Philip!

Philip turns around

ES: I can't say I agree with you, but you certainly are glorious. God bless you.

Philip smiles

PD: You, too.

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