Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Making Private Pain Public

I was reading "Better Together" by Robert Putnam and Lewis M. Feldstein and they quoted Father Alfonso Guevara, a pastor in Brownsville, Texas as saying, "We make private pain public." That phrase really struck me. The idea of making private pain public seems at once fascinating and horrifying. I guess it depends on if it's your pain or someone else's.

I'm reminded of instances where seeing someone's pain is so difficult you just can't take it in, so you look away. It has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with us. We are the ones who can't take it. The person in pain has no choice in the matter. But we do. And we look away. Or sometimes run away.

By the same token, there are people who can look at pain - stare it down, take it in, accept it and the person living it. But those people are rare. And they're a tremendous gift when you need someone to look at your pain, especially when you can't look at it yourself.

Making private pain public is a concept I want to think more about.