“In a few weeks or months from now perhaps I’ll be jaded again and be engrossed in improving my own life.”
This is a short personal piece that reflects on grief and the process of choosing how to react to a no sense world. For those that aren’t familiar with Kamo no Chomei, he was a medieval Japanese writer (1155-1216) that wrote about his own (imperfect) ways of coping with the political and natural chaos around him.
The tragic world Chomei tried to escape from in medieval Japan is a lot smaller today. Over the past year I have taken solace in reports that suffering and extreme poverty are at historical lows in our human history. Following the Facebook posts of the not so humble Mark Zuckerberg there are moments of hope and elation that progress is being made. Like Chomei often noted about change, these positive feelings are cyclical and temporary. The river keeps flowing and the houses keep burning. The knowledge of good does not diminish the huge amount of suffering that still exists and lately I’ve felt it hard not to be emotionally impacted by world news and readings from my classes. There have been times that the impact of truly empathizing with the experiences of people in historical stories and art have been attractive. I wondered if maybe—just maybe—this practice were widespread then history wouldn’t be so cyclical. And so this semester I decided to try it out, and well, it couldn’t feel worse.