“The hour has passed midnight. The neighbor woman has started crying again. She wails so piteously that if there were a God, he must surely tremble at these groans. For some nights now this has been her practice. Exactly at the appointed hour she begins, but her ending knows no hour. It is as if she will cry as long as she has breath and life. The neighbor woman was the happiest woman in this cursed building. She was the most good-natured among the sullen neighbors who seem to consider a ‘good morning’ an insult, the answer to which is silence. But now the neighbor woman just wails so…Her voice comes through so clearly it is as if she is sitting in the middle of my home lamenting. Curse these walls that do not respect the privacy of humankind. Curse the road when its meaning is the separation of mother from child. Curse, curse, curse. Curse us who never intend to learn proper driving; we are the most disorderly people in history, also the greatest makers of catastrophe.”
I reflect on human suffering and what we experience. I think of the bitterest sufferings and of people who are in solitary confinement in a cell. The pain of poverty and unemployment. The immense pain of loneliness. The pain of exile. The anguish of humiliation. The pain of injustice. These sufferings that have encompassed the interval between birth and death.
This grief that has made life always unexpected and uneven. All these are hard upon the eyes of man.
But none of these can fully express the anguish of the expression above. In the lamentations of this woman, there is something of the nature of disbelief. Disbelief in something which is the most essential reason for existence and without which life is impossible. Not knowing how to live without the new truth, and without life. Terror and unexpected distress cry out in the lamentations, and warn humankind of being taken unawares: of anxiety: of thinking every moment and every second behind the veil of their minds: What will happen if I lose my job tomorrow? If my spouse leaves me? If my child falls ill or has an accident? What will happen if the present order collapses? Life and our mind have built the process of living on an optimistic expectation of life, and with trembling of the bricks of our thoughts, all the mental maps we have collapse.
The truth is that human beings cannot have certainty in anything except the uncertainty and constant change of all things. The only fixed point is that everything in this existence changes, and we can never speak with 100 per cent probability – as is possible in theory – about the occurrence or non-occurrence of events. The earthly world is devoid of anything perfect.
Humanity’s greatest asset is the ability to overcome suffering, not by changing external factors but by changing one’s inner vision. Seeing a more permanent truth and seeing things that are not visible in the normal view.
Something that can be an answer to the thousands of questions that arise throughout life and in facing injustices and bitter experiences. Like that expression: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Jesus on the cross complains, and it is strange that in most translations of the New Testament this expression is quoted in its original language. The same complaint and that expression which someone uttered for six years and heard no answer (perhaps because he did not believe in hearing an answer), and the one who spoke and heard an answer.
The answer to this question of Jesus on the cross and of humans bowed under the burden of suffering is hidden in “the problem of evil” and the answer to human suffering and the perishing of generations. And perhaps the only light that remains in this endless dark night. Here one learns that humans do not live for “happiness” and joy. The purpose of humans’ brief life on this earthy sphere is undoubtedly not happiness, and those who think otherwise will inevitably end up, in the end of life and in bitter moments of departure, with the interpretation of Arthur Schopenhauer’s expression:
There is only one inborn error, and that is the notion that we exist in order to be happy… So long as we persist in this inborn error… the world seems to us full of contradictions. For at every step, in great things and small, we are bound to experience that the world and life are certainly not arranged for the purpose of being content. That’s why the faces of almost all elderly people are etched with such disappointment.
He had said that man always and everywhere asks his God, “Alaysa Allahu kafa’ be abdih?” Does God not suffice for His servant? And you had answered no! You had seen that it was not enough, and you had seen the cold nights when you were naked and cold and did not sleep. You had seen hunger and regret, fire and imprisonment and pain and war. Faith was not enough to fill the hungry belly…and there was…
Augustine was an ordinary man full of choices that seem erroneous to us today. But it is he who wrote for his own gravestone: “What lightens the heart of a Christian from the heavy burden of sorrow? This truth that he is a wayfarer and restless in longing for his Homeland…”