Hermeneutic and Buddhist Meditations
Edited By David W. Jardine, Christopher Gilham and Graham McCaffrey
Chapter Eighteen: The Comfort of Suffering (Gilbert Drapeau)
The Comfort of Suffering gilbert drapeau “Why doesn’t she just hit me?” A foster child asked me this about his foster mother. The child was unable to deal with or understand the concept of consequences. “If she just hits me, it will be over, then I can move on.” Hitting, for this child, was a known entity. It was acknowledged and un- derstood as a way of being, no matter its abusive connotations. The concept of consequence, of rational cause and effect, in this case an episodic withdrawal of extracurricular activities, was, to this child, a greater suffering than physical abuse administered incidentally as a timely action understandable within the child’s usu- al familiar context. In Social Work, whatever the program, an individual is, ideally, moved from a troubled situation to a new, hoped-for, beneficial one. The helper proposes a new avenue where suffering is naught or resolved. One of the great truths of the helping professions that is often ignored is that the suffering will never be ended. It can only be transformed. A scar will always mar the cancer patient’s body; the amputee will always be missing a limb; the once-snake-bitten will always err in caution in the desert. The ultimate current cyclical failure of human services programming fails on three levels: C h a p T e r e i g h T e e n 142 | gilber t drapeau • The limited understanding of the impact of one’s comfort in suffering that which is known; • The destabilization...
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