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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: June 08, 2021 11:02PM

Thinking of my own tribulations and the suffering of RFM posters and humanity in general. About why things happen and what it all means.

Mormonism was a good lesson for me. Just let it go, they said. What if you can’t let it go? Same as when you get your own personal Judas. How do you ever trust again? Is it like exmo atheism, which seems to be permanent? Or does your faith just come back stronger? Maybe you get what you can handle.

I’m back to the “true lies” that I postulated a few years ago. Maybe the Mormons understand the divine nature of suffering in spite of their religion being a synthesis of 19th century restoration theology. Maybe I’m recovered since I don’t need the Mormons to be wrong. I don’t hate it when they’re right.

If Donald Hoffman is to be believed, human perception is all about evolutionary advantage. That’s why we believe that suffering is bad and freedom from suffering is good. Just because of its evolutionary advantage, not because of any basis in reality. The ground of reality could be the Tao, making everything divine perfection. This is as good as it gets.

So maybe there is no suffering per se, only the imagination of suffering. Or I’m losing my mind, but how would I know?

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Posted by: Tevai ( )
Date: June 08, 2021 11:14PM

I don't think suffering is ever "good."

All around our planet right now are countless kids who are starving to death, and countless women, men, and children who are effectively slaves (even if they are not "legally" considered so in their countries, though many of them ARE), and countless people and non-human animals who are dying of exposure, or insufficient nutrition, or wounds that cannot be treated because there are no treatments available to them, or are dying protracted deaths from injuries or diseases from which, had they lived in different circumstances, could have been ameliorated or cured.

Not even to mention the lifelong suffering that comes from not having safe water to drink, or wash in...and having no chance whatsoever of any kind of decent education.

This isn't just a "Third World" problem, it is a problem right here in the U.S. of A. right now at this moment, and on most of the inhabited land which exists on this planet.

What good could possibly come from starvation, exposure to the elements, bodily injuries of all kinds, lack of access to the most rudimentary of medical care, constant exposure to what amounts to torture of many different kinds, or the lack of the most basic of elementary education?

There is no such thing as "good" suffering...for any person, or for any non-human animal.

Period.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/08/2021 11:27PM by Tevai.

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: June 10, 2021 06:22AM

“I don't think suffering is ever "good."

That’s exactly what a Jew would say, which is wonderful. A Hindu would say they deserve it because it is their karma. What kind of society does the latter build?

But the Jewish identity seems to have an attachment to historical suffering. Too much victimhood thinking leads to the same kind of isolation that characterizes Mormonism.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: June 10, 2021 04:30PM

babyloncansuckit Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> “I don't think suffering is ever "good."
>
> That’s exactly what a Jew would say, which is
> wonderful.

Yeah, that's as offensive as it is ridiculous. One doesn't have to be Jewish to think suffering per se is bad.

For example. . .


-----------------
> A Hindu would say they deserve it
> because it is their karma.

Well, you missed the boat there. Hindus believe that suffering is entirely unnecessary and without merit. The whole purpose of life is to eliminate the self-inflicted suffering that is Samsara, the cycle of incarnation and reincarnation.


----------------
> But the Jewish identity seems to have an
> attachment to historical suffering. Too much
> victimhood thinking leads to the same kind of
> isolation that characterizes Mormonism.

What? Jews were isolated not by their actions but by others'. And when they are treated well they tend to assimilate either fully or in part. Only when non-Jews isolate them and treat them terribly do Jews tend to hive themselves off in the name of self-preservation.

You know what the difference between Jews and Mormons is in your context? Mormons abused their neighbors and then ran away and played the victim in Utah. Jews were actually persecuted by their neighbors and couldn't run away because anti-semitism stretched from the Muslim world across Europe to the far reaches of the Americas. Take away the persecution and Jews have shown a willingness to integrate into secular society, often but not always retaining some degree of commitment to their ancestral community.

Jews do not define themselves and their culture in terms of victimhood. It is outsiders who imposed that definition.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/11/2021 03:53PM by Lot's Wife.

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Posted by: pollythinks ( )
Date: June 08, 2021 11:29PM

I am a female. Boy, did I suffer some pain, mostly sighlentlly, with some grunts and groans thrown in when I delivered my 5 babies.

Was it worth it? Yep.

The lady across from me was screaming, and her husband walking back and forth saying, "Never again, never again".

A Catholic lady kitty-corner from me, had just given birth--for the 6th or 7th time, and she was crying softly because, as she told me, her church leaders expected her to do so again, and again (etc).

My thoughts: It seems to depend on who is bearing the children, and expected to take care of them during the difficult earliest couple of years--the woman, or the man?

So, does that answer your question to a degree?

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: June 10, 2021 06:24AM

Yes! I’ll wait to complain until after I’ve pushed out five babies.

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Posted by: Humberto ( )
Date: June 08, 2021 11:59PM

Suffering is.

Alleviating suffering is a life's purpose for some noble folks. One of my best friends is a nurse. I'm glad people like him are around.

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Posted by: Tevai ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 12:26AM

Humberto Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Suffering is.

In many, many cases, this is not true.

People can be helped, non-human animals can be helped, societies can be helped, nations can be helped, natural resources (like water) can be helped, and now--with our present knowledge and technologies--natural forces can often be helped.

Suffering is not a time for resignation or placidity.

Suffering should be a signal, an active call, for support and assistance, in whatever ways are appropriate for a given particular situation.

"If you are not part of the solution, you are a part of the problem." (A quote from decades ago, which I may have partially misremembered, but this is the sense of it.)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/09/2021 12:27AM by Tevai.

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: June 10, 2021 06:27AM

I tell them there’s no problems, only solutions.
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I’d lost my mind.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 03:11AM

I'm with Tevai and Humberto on this, Bradley. And I have to say that your summary of Taoism is off the mark.

> The ground of reality could be
> the Tao, making everything divine perfection. This
> is as good as it gets.

Taoism posits that suffering is fundamentally wrong and, even worse, unnecessary. The thought system is like Buddhism in the sense that it seeks to identify the sources of suffering and eradicate them.

Laozi was not Dr. Pangloss.

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Posted by: moremany ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 03:43AM

It depends on how long - or short - you suffer, and why for.

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 08:41AM

As a life long masochist, otherwise known as a runner, I have long experience with the idea that pain *is* suffering. But wisdom says otherwise:

“One runner told of a mantra his older brother, also a runner, had taught him which he’s pondered ever since he began running. Here it is: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you start to think, Man this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The hurt part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand any more is up to the runner himself. This pretty much sums up the most important aspect of marathon running.”

—Haruki Murakami—
—What I Talk About When I Talk About Running—

Not just running, but life itself.



This theme often recalls Camus’s Sisyphus. Does Sisyphus suffer? Can he be happy in his predicament?

“I will say nothing against the course of my existence. But at bottom it has been nothing but pain and burden, and I can affirm that during the whole of my 75 years, I have not had four weeks of genuine well-being. It is but the perpetual rolling of a rock that must be raised up again forever.”

--J.W. von Goethe, in 1824--
--As quoted by William James--
--The Varieties of Religious Experience--

Sounds like Goethe found his existence as one long haul bout of Sisyphean suffering, suffering from life itself.

If zen means a moment of seeing into the true nature of things, which is tao, then it takes a whole lot of zen to decouple suffering from pain. At the 21 mile marker, I’m looking for all the zen I can get.

Human, O to be wise, O…

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 10:23PM

"What I talk about when I talk about running" is homage to Murakami's friend, the American Raymond Carver, who earlier wrote a book entitled "What we talk about when we talk about love."

Carver reciprocated by writing a poem about their 1985 meeting, a poem that brings to mind some of Don Bagley's reminiscences.



The Projectile

We sipped tea.
Politely musing on possible reasons for the success of my books in your country.
Slipped into talk of pain and humiliation you find occurring, and recurring, in my stories.
And that element of sheer chance.
How all this translates in terms of sales.
I looked into a corner of the room.
And for a minute I was 16 again,
careening around in the snow in a ‘50 Dodge sedan with five or six bozos.
Giving the finger to some other bozos,
who yelled and pelted our car with snowballs, gravel, old tree branches.
We spun away, shouting.
And we were gonna leave it at that.
But my window was down three inches.
Three inches.
I hollered out one last obscenity.
And saw this guy wind up to throw.
From this vantage, now, I imagine I see it coming.
See it speeding through the air while I watch,
like those soldiers in the first part of the last century
watched cannisters of shot fly in their direction while they stood,
unable to move for the dread fascination of it.
But I didn’t see it. I’d already turned my head to laugh with my pals.
When something slammed into the side of my head so hard
it broke my eardrum and fell into my lap, intact.
A ball of packed ice and snow.
The pain was stupendous.
And the humiliation.
It was awful when I began to weep in front of those tough guys while they cried, Dumb luck.
Freak accident.
A chance in a million!
The guy who threw it, he had to be amazed,
and proud of himself, while he took the shouts and back-slaps of the others.
He must have wiped his hands on his pants.
And messed around a little more before going home to supper.
He grew up to have his share of setbacks and get lost in his life, same as I got lost in mine.
He never gave that afternoon another thought. And why should he?
So much else to think about always.
Why remember that stupid car sliding down the stupid road,
then turning the stupid corner and disappearing?
We politely raise our tea cups in the room.
A room that for a minute something else entered.

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 10:42AM

Suffering in and of itself is just suffering and is not bad or good as the world likes very much to label everything and not just what is in a can of Spam or or Pringles.

Suffering unfortunately doesn't tell you how many servings are in the package or how high it will raise your stress levels if not your cholesterol.

Rather than good or bad, suffering or unbearably difficult even heartbreaking can sharpen your senses, force you to sort out deeper issues, or, edge you to a safety blanket and a corner to ball up in.

I don't feel I suffered. I feel I was tried by fire. I feel that my particular set of genes worked for me and made me stronger. So I can't regret the hard times and being raised extreme Mormon whilst gay brought some of those.

At any rate, nice post. I like when things are considered together rather than dividing into teams.


In the end, when I compare anything I have been through to the woman here who's 6 year old son was shot and killed by a couple in a road rage incident--well that Mother and her family got every serving in the package of Suffering. She isn't ever going to get over that. Heartbreaking.

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: June 10, 2021 06:44AM

The dark night of the soul triggers this. It was dogging me for weeks. I was like Bill Murray’s character in “Groundhog Day” at his worst. So I’ll say something that’s unpopular in RfM.

I couldn’t take it anymore, this personal hell. I recall saying in this forum about 10 years ago that there could be no savior because nobody can save you for yourself. But I was wrong. It’s exactly why there must be a savior. I told God I couldn’t shake this thing. Nothing would make the pain go away. I asked the Christ, of which Jesus is an icon, historical or not, to heal my soul and take the pain away.

For the third time in my life, a voice came to me. It said, “I went through more”. Then the ice started to melt. The heartache left me. I once again felt grateful to be alive. I learned a valuable lesson. I can’t go it alone. As much fun as it is to ridicule religion, man cannot live by bread alone.

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Posted by: Dr. No ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 10:59AM

Well, it's an excellent question.
Lots of interesting proposals here.

One fascinating element is not so much the phenomenon, but what the human mind does with it - label as good/bad, exploring the "why" of it, questioning the nature of reality, the place of humanity in it, what if anything is to be done. That kind of delicious stuff is focused into high relief on this forum.

Wild animals do suffer; it is evidenced on their bodies. I do not know if there is growth.

Of interest, the word "patient" loosely derives from the Latin "I suffer." ("Client" on the other hand, roughly "I lean." Only one of the two has the element of dignity.)

Only two (tentative) lessons from this life:
1. If it is a calling card -- i.e. a new acquaintance leads with tribulation -- that contact is best avoided.
2. It forces change, internally and/or externally, and so can lead to growth. At least there is the potential. On this look around or see within.

Great souls suffer in silence
- Friedrich Schiller

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Posted by: Dr. No ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 11:18AM

Referring to "Only two (tentative) lessons from this life" should have written "this (my) life." Others have learned more.

Animals do suffer.
You know on seeing a distressed chickadee frantically circling the body of her mate hit and tossed carelessly to the side of the road.
The orca who carried her dead calf for seventeen days.
The cows who call plaintively for their removed calves

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 11:22AM

No. Suffering is bad. We shouldn't want bad things to happen so we learn the value of suffering, IMO. I think religions that teach this are sick.

That said, biology doesn't care about suffering. Survival involves a lot of suffering for all living things. Nature is downright cruel, and human cruelty is part of it. Suffering resulting in rewards is not a great way to run things, IMO.

However, suffering with a disease can result in a stronger immune system. There are a lot of examples like that and ways to look at it. If there is no benefit, the suffering seems pointless. With biology, there is no one in charge of the fairness of suffering.

This does not speak well of a creator if there was one. The creator is alarmingly malevolent, ignorant or impotent to create the system we have for life. It's amazing and beautiful and all, but overwhelmingly filled with cruelty and suffering. Survival of the fittest translates to suffering.

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 11:51AM

You make great points. In particular, this: "Suffering resulting in rewards is not a great way to run things, IMO."

In particular as well, rewards which happen to be great treasures in heaven.

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Posted by: moremany ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 01:05PM

It depends on what you are doing it for.

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Posted by: Jonny the Smoke ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 04:47PM

I don't think it's good or bad. But going through it can make a person better, stronger, etc.

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Posted by: azsteve ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 05:31PM

I had a lot of bad experiences on my mission. There were a few good times. But those good times were outweighed by bad times. And the bad times were not like some people think when they think of a mission unless they went on one themselves. The suffering does not come in the from of persecution from outsiders nor from difficulty learning how to live a missionary lifestyle. Those issues pale in comparison to the real suffering to be had on a mission.

Too many of the other missionaries are immature and really don't want to be there to begin with. So babysitting and tolerating many of the other missionaries and the local leaders becomes a way of life for a few years. It takes the joy away and makes you wonder if it's even worth sticking it out since most of your time and efforts are spent dealing with companions and local leaders who are just waiting for their respective callings to be over with and that is their grand prize, not actually living or promoting the religion. You learn to tolerate nearly anything and that is a form of suffering, in a very non-faith-promoting way. When you get home, you're better prepared to take the abuse the church heaps on its most honest members. Then at some point, you've had enough and you leave the church.

So was the suffering valuable? In professional settings or when caught by surprise in most social settings, nothing unpleasant seems to phase you after you went on a mission. But is this a valuable skill? I guess it is.... kind of learning to be really good at eating shit is a skill and I imagine that you could become good at that too if you wanted to. But why do it? It's better to learn to avoid the abuse and to deal with the abuse rather than learning to get better at tolerating it. In the church you can't challenge the church leaders, no matter how wrong they are. So your only valid action is to leave and be happy or stay and suffer and to get good at suffering. So is this kind of suffering a good thing?

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Posted by: lurking in ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 05:34PM

But I can't believe that existence wouldn't be better if the universe were thoroughly reworked and all suffering were eliminated.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 05:58PM

Ah yes, a task for an omnipotent loving God. Anyone know where to find such a being?

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Posted by: lurking in ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 06:13PM

Lot's Wife Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Ah yes, a task for an omnipotent loving God.
> Anyone know where to find such a being?


I've given up on the "God." But maybe the kid in the basement somewhere in the quantum foam of hyperspace will have mercy and give our universe a reboot. ;-)

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/confirmed-we-live-in-a-simulation/

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: June 10, 2021 06:49AM

The first said, “Here am I, send me.”

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Posted by: Razortooyh ( )
Date: June 09, 2021 08:46PM

Call me a pervert, but I never have enjoyed suffering.

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Posted by: moremany ( )
Date: June 10, 2021 04:04PM

Its neither.

It is what it is

Its how we process it

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 12:17PM

"You don't have to feel pain to suffer and sometimes the hurt can feel so good...

"It boils down to humans believing that if they don't declare that 'things' happened, then maybe they didn't happen, thus making life meaningless, and our egos can't stand that notion, and a lot of blather gets mixed into the messages.

"And then everybody dies, with most hoping they left some kind of legacy, even if it makes people cry."

  --Judic West, Fan of Deacon Jones, #75, L.A. Rams, drafted in the 14th round of the 1961 NFL draft, out of good 'ol Mississippi Valley State; go Delta Devils !!

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 12:27PM

    Nothing that has ever happened matters in terms of the existence of the Universe and its search for a Final End.

    The Universe may never get to a uniform 0° Kelvin, but by godless, it will die trying!

  --Judic West, Innocent Bystander

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 01:57PM

Judic, where've you been? We've missed your unique blend of insight and incoherence.

And speaking of incoherence, the police called. Gramps wandered down to the station and they need someone to pick him up.

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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 02:25PM

In his last book, "Man without a Country", Kurt Vonnegut Jr did a riff on when he got to heaven (note: rhetorical premise, he was an atheist) the first thing he was going to ask is "what was the good news, and what was the bad news." It is so often unclear.

Examples:
Internal combustion engine, (I think he gave that example, and how it immeasurably raised the standard of living on the planet, and poisoned it)

Other items that could be on the list:
Democratic republics
E = m * c^2
the internet
the corporation
movies
velveeta
agriculture
writing

And of course various levels and intensities of suffering.

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Posted by: csuprovograd ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 04:55PM

Seems that people need to suffer in order to appreciate life that is absent of suffering. Without direct knowledge of how bad it can get sometimes, one might not be inclined to put in the effort required to savor a better quality of life.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 05:01PM

> Without direct knowledge of how
> bad it can get sometimes, one
> might not be inclined to put in
> the effort required to savor a
> better quality of life.


What about people who know what 'bad times' are, but then 'put in the effort' to improve their positions, in ways that are damaging to people, places, and things? ...sometimes knowingly!

Can it just be a numbers game?

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Posted by: csuprovograd ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 05:25PM

There may be some folks inclined to self-destruction, but it is my understanding that we are all striving for equity.

When that happens, it’s not likely that anyone will damage others or themselves, knowingly or otherwise.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: June 12, 2021 07:11PM

We are looking out different 'windows' and thus are not seeing the same vista.

I sincerely believe that there is a rather large percentage of humankind that would not hesitate to break rules, laws, commandments, etc., to improve the 'quality' of their lives, while giving zero consideration to the quality of the lives of those whom they don't know.

All the people I know, and to whom I wish the best, who own cars, are seemingly wedded to the notion that they have earned the right to drive their cars wherever and whenever they want, with zero consideration given to the environment. (If I knew anyone who owned an all-electric car, I could moderate this 'knowledge' of mine, but I don't.)

If I were friends with Ed Begley, Jr. I'd be able to point to a friend who does think ethically, but he and I are not acquainted.

Also, I'm a golfer. We're the worst when it comes to being spoiled and wanting the spoiling to continue. If all the golf courses in the world disappeared, which would be a good thing, I'd survive. But what are the chances of this coming to pass?

And how come the American Congress doesn't pass a law outlawing passenger vehicles (including pick-em trucks) with engines possessing more than four cylinders? Of course, this makes "sense"! But it's not likely to ever happen, because elected officials generally look forward to being reelected.

For the most part, we're either spoiled brats or trying to raise ourselves to that oh-so-desirable level!

In my jaundiced view, the only people seeking equity are the ones who are trying to level themselves up. Nobody I know is willing to sacrifice what they possess so that those 'beneath' them won't have to see people doing better than them.


I admit to a cynicism so deep that it may be nonpareil among Lamanites of a certain age.

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Posted by: kathleen ( )
Date: June 13, 2021 05:57PM

Some (most) of my ex-inlaws have a passionate love affair with suffering.

My ex tried to help them out of their suffering(s) in a variety of ways, but I finally convinced him that the well-rehearsed renditions of their suffering(s) was its own payoff. Thier fidelity to suffering(s) was impressive. It was impressive in its height, breadth, and depth along with the creative elements involved.

For them, suffering(s) is not only good, but it’s also grand and glorious, sublime, satisfying and delicious.

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