Monday, September 6, 2010

the comfort of discomfort

Somewhere, George Orwell mentioned more or less that there was no such thing as a philosopher without a full stomach. I imagine what he had in mind was to point out the disparity between rich and poor -- the rich have the comfort and luxury where the poor have more mundane matters to attend to: Food, drink, shelter, etc.

Does it take a certain level of comfort to make it possible to consider the discomforts of this life? I think it does and I think that comfort is manifested, for example, in the go-along-to-get-along conformity institutionalized churches/temples exhibit. It takes some peace and quiet -- and a full stomach -- to consider what Buddhists sometimes call unsatisfactoriness or uncertainty. And who better to provide that peace and quiet than a well-armed state? Philosophy and religion may be smooth as dish soap to the touch but there is payment to be made for that dish soap.

As true as any of the above may be sociologically -- and I'm not claiming it's a perfect analysis -- what interests me is how this plays out in individuals who may be seeking some peace of mind: Gotta have some comfort in order to assess discomfort. Or, as my buddy John once put it, "How many people do you know who claim poverty and still drink bottled water?"

I just think it's something to keep an eye on: Who is this one who assesses and wrestles with judgment and bias and attachment and all the other aspects of human existence that convene towards unhappiness? Is that one judgmental, biased and attached?

Have a Big Mac and think about it.

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