Everyone else too

“I have trouble talking to people who look like they have friends” says this girl. Not all pains or disabilities are visible on the body.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I was surprised to see this attributed to Plato, and by all accounts this is just a way to add authority to it. It is not much over a century old. But the idea itself has certainly been true since Plato and before. It is also a fundamental tenet in Buddhism, although not a direct quote there.

If we look at it simply, we can say that people experience suffering from their body, from their mind, and from their relationship with other people. It is rare to meet anyone who does not have at least two of these three more or less constantly, or at least frequently. Some carry all three of these burdens at the same time.

Even if you do not see a person wince in pain, chances are they still have their afflictions. And if not directly painful, then certainly limiting. Some weakness of the body, or some phobia, or some obligation to a family member, may keep one from the path in life that they have always been longing for. You cannot see such a thing and will not hear about it unless you learn to know them well, perhaps. But these things are very common even among those who seem successful.

Of course there are differences, and some people are simply luckier. But it is not easy to know which. It is not always those who complain the most who carry the heaviest burden, far from it.

We should understand that everyone else too is carrying a burden, and cut them some slack at the least, if we cannot help them. Unfortunately people will sometimes lash out, not knowing the other person, adding insult to injury and salting the wounds. Sometimes we may have to act to protect one person from another, to stop an injustice, but to attack simply because we are irritated or upset is not a good thing.

One of the things I have learned from Happy Science is to notice this, that illness tends to make us self-centered. If we experience pain, the first thing we drop is helping others. This is not in itself evil, for we also have an obligation to look after our own body. If we let it continue to grow sicker because we exert ourselves, we will soon be unable to even care for ourselves, even when we otherwise could have done so. But there is a seductive side to this being excused from our duties. It is something we can get addicted to, and make use of more than is right. It may even turn into a subconscious desire to fall ill, for those who are weary of their duties and wish to relax. So that is something to be aware of.

Of course I am thinking of my own recent experiences when I say this. We each have to look out for our own tendencies and temptations first and foremost.

But even those who don’t write about it on the Net, have their struggles. Let us be kind, let us be merciful. Would we not hope to meet that kind of good will ourselves on our day of need?

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