Enduring suffering

Rod Dreher’s American Conservative post has been sitting in my pile of things to read for a while. I’ve read it a few times and still aren’t quite sure how to express what I’m thinking. I’ll start by excerpting this:

Being truly Christian requires even more than the Stoic virtues of enduring suffering without complaining. It requires you to develop the ability to be an alchemist of the spirit: to take suffering and turn it into love. None of us can do this on our own. Shoot, my own suffering is less than nothing compared to what Charles endured, much less compared to what most people on this earth endure every single day. But it is no less painful, in its way, for that, and the principle Solzhenitsyn discerned in the gulag, and that Charles Featherstone discerned both in Solzhenitsyn and in the halls of his high school and under the roof of his childhood home, can help all of us, whatever our circumstances. Because everybody faces injustice. Worse, everybody at some point will inflict injustice on others.

None of us will be sentenced to the gulag. None of us will serve as guards at the gulag. But in some way, each of us will face the same spiritual and moral forces at work in the gulag, in whatever attenuated form. And we will be tested by them.

Brad Feld has written candidly about his struggles with depression. I’ve seen others in the startup space write about the challenge of sharing their struggles and fears and sometimes depression without seeming like they’re crying for help on the one hand, and without seeming weak on the other.

We really seem to lack the social space for people to speak candidly with one another about their struggles. Because we don’t typically think that sort of talk (mutual candor about personal suffering) is helpful or appropriate even among friends, we probably get worse and worse at developing those “Stoic virtues” that can help us make sense of and endure through difficult times.