the high costs of ignoring pain

We’ve got such an immense backlog of pain in our world. Ignoring pain has a high cost – it doesn’t just go away. It shows up all over the place, in our personal relationships, and in the wider world community.

There is so much hate in this world. So much violence. So much of people being awful to each other – on grand scales and smaller ones.

One of my favorite writers, Joanna Macy, writes – that your world is in pain is no reason to turn your back on it.

I don’t want to turn my back on it, but man, it’s overwhelming. Inside all of these violent actions, inside all the other-izing, inside all of the exclusion is grief. It’s pain. Pain and fear that has never been heard or acknowledged, and so now lashes out at the world.

Grief is everywhere.

I have to remind myself that what we’re doing here together – talking about pain, paying attention to what hurts – matters. When the world is so full of danger and hurt and seems to be spiraling ever more out of control, it matters how we come to pain. Personal pain, the pain of others, the pain of the world.

When the world is in pain, paying attention to what hurts - matters. Click To Tweet

Bearing witness to your own pain, finding the love that lies at the foundation of our concerns for self and the world, fighting fiercely for beauty and kindness – these are the things that let us continue. They help us survive. Whether the action you take contributes to change in the world or your community, or you act to companion yourself as best you can, I have to believe that our efforts towards love and kindness matter.

There’s not a lot of action to take in the face of grief, especially in the early days. But showing up, telling the truth, paying attention to pain, offering ourselves and each other kindness and acceptance – these things make a difference.

Lets keep going, friends. For self, for each other, for the world.


How abogrief support that doesn't suckut you? How has the current explosion of escalated violence intersected with your personal grief? How do you understand the relationship of unacknowledged pain or grief and systemic violence? These are fascinating – and important – subjects. Let me know what you think.