Most Jews know how to suffer. Most Christians don’t, although they once did. Bitcoiners and homeschoolers know how to suffer. “Vote harder” types seldom do.
There’s no virtue in suffering itself, but suffering is required if you want to be more than mundane. If you can’t accept suffering, anyone with a pin and a threat owns you. So, let’s be clear on this: Living in any way except one prescribed by authority requires suffering.
If you hope to avoid it and still attain anything but the uninspired and compliant, you’re badly mistaken. And to make this point very clearly, I’ll restate it bluntly:
If you can’t bear social disdain, you’ll have to stay in line and do what Teacher says… for life.
If you care more about losing money than gaining liberty, you’re not going to get liberty. If truth isn’t something you’re willing to be hated for, you’re not going to get much truth.
Entrenched hierarchies will always oppose progress, and they will bare their claws against new ways of doing things. So, if we can’t accept losses and rebuild… and then rebuild again… we’re not going to get past their pompous tyranny.
Please understand that I don’t expect anyone to enjoy suffering, or to suffer more than is necessary. But if a negative reaction stops you in your tracks, or if fear of some high-status poser paralyzes you, you won’t be pushing the world forward.
What Do We Value?
In the end, our willingness to suffer comes back to a simple question: What do we want and how badly do we want it?
We can “want liberty” or “want truth” all we like, but the systems of this world don’t agree: it’s not helpful for their agenda. More than that, they have millions of people who will obey their edicts without a second thought. Within that environment, being different is routinely punished, and in ways ranging from the subtle to the gross. So the question remains: How badly do we want this?
Will being insulted at a cocktail party turn you away? Will the threat of losing a contract turn you back? Is putting your time and effort into something that might be torn down too big a risk? Too big an embarrassment?
If we want to be better and live better, accepting such risks is not optional.
How It’s Done
Improving the world requires that we hold our ideas above the ideas of the powerful and the televised. We’ll have to do what we think is right, regardless of what the world thinks.
Whether we’re believers or not, there’s a great deal to learn from Christians back in the early days, when they knew how to suffer. Jesus, as it happens, went out of his way to prepare them for just that, saying things like, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’s sake,” and, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.”
The earliest Christians avoided suffering when they could but took it when they had to. And they did change the world for the better. Rome was built upon slavery, and the Christians of the West eradicated it, pop history be damned.
Christianity, like Judaism, was never meant to be easy. A follower of Jesus was supposed to lead mankind “into the light,” thus angering those who remained in darkness.
For all practical purposes, and especially in any sort of pro-authority environment, independent progress is a punishable offense and anything unauthorized is suspicious at the least.
Yet here we are, reasonably sane and healthy people, wanting to move forward and out of an obvious mess. But we’re stuck in a situation where forward movement is opposed, and so we have to accept pain. That stinks, but the alternative is a life-long, neutered stasis.
What we’re really facing-off against is a system that enforces conformity, and the price of exit it is to suffer for your virtues.
Here’s one concluding thought:
The centralized systems of this world survive by exploiting human weaknesses. Decentralized systems thrive upon human virtues. We are wise and brave to choose the latter.