THE PURPOSE OF PAIN: To Elicit a Response

Larry Green

Pain hurts, but pain serves a purpose. Were it not for the sensation of pain, we would not pull our hand off a hot stove and thereby avoid the consequences of a severe burn. Were it not for the sensation of pain, we would not know that something is wrong with our bodies and that there may be a need to seek medical help. Were it not for pain, we would not hear the cry of a child and the need to give our attention.

The purpose of pain is to elicit a response. In the absence of the sensation of pain, we would fail to respond, with potentially tragic results.

And in this time of global pandemic and unpardonable acts of racial injustice, the spiritual and emotional pain that we are collectively experiencing as human beings also serves a purpose. The pain we feel at this time is overwhelming as we see tens of thousands of innocent people dying and tens of millions of innocent people losing their jobs. The pain is further compounded when we witness the unspeakable murder of George Floyd, and we see how much work remains to be done to heal the racial divide in our country. Indeed, the pain is unbearable.

And yet, this pain does serve a purpose, because it calls for a response. Were we not to feel pain, we would live in a world of apathy and indifference, and the result would be exponentially more tragic.

We need to have a societal response to our collective pain, but our society is a collection of individuals and it is up to each of us to respond.

The nature of our individual responses depends on our individual talents and resources, but all as part of the greater community.  

And we can respond in our own small ways. In response to COVID-19, we can respond by making a call to someone who is isolated, by donating to a worthy cause, by saying thank you to a service provider in harm’s way. And in response to the George Floyd tragedy, we can respond by learning more about racial injustice, by reaching out and making connections with individuals of color, by joining in peaceful protests.

These may seem like minor responses, but every response makes a difference. If each of us responds in a manner commensurate with our individual talents and resources, the collective response we make as a society is enormous.