Joy in the sorrows of others?

“Why is it that man desires to be made sad, beholding miserable and tragic things which he himself would by no means wish to suffer? Yet he desires as a spectator to feel sorrow, and this sorrow is his pleasure…”

Was this guy watching too much news, political mudslinging or maybe just hanging out on Facebook?

No, this was Augustine in “The Confessions” circa AD 397 talking about his youthful fascination with stage plays. People have not changed. I have the same desire to feed on doom and gloom. It’s not healthy.

So, what do you do? My answers have included unplugging from thew news (never owning a TV by choice), becoming very intentionally and deliberately apolitical, turning off Facebook (2016) and Twitter (2020) as they became political cesspools and conduits for voyeuristic negativity (e.g. “news”) to creep back in to my life.

But humans don’t change. I have not changed. I just choose to remove the fire-hoses delivering gloom and tragedy to me 24x7. It will find me again, and I will have to make more choices to cut it out.

““Always look on the bright side of life”

Monty Python, Life of Brian

Well, yes.

The Monty Python song embraces an outlook that sees a world full of bad things, and that it views, in the end, as meaningless and absurd (see their next movie, “The Meaning of Life” or John Cleese’ most recent (2020) one man show “Why There Is No Hope” in which they drive the point home)

Augustine himself passed through a period where he embraced skepticism…literally the Greek philosophy of Skepticism that doubted everything, including the existence and know-ability of meaning itself. But he went further.

It’s not enough to create a vacuum, to get rid of the bad, the negative. A vacuum will always be filled. My answer is to try to go where Augustine wound up as articulated by the Apostle Paul:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Philippians 4:8, NASB

What are you allowing to fill your vacuum ?

Post 33 of #100DaysToOffload (yeah, I’m going slowly)