Parochial concern

02Jun11

If it is true that people increasingly tend to feel life as suffering, first and foremost as their own suffering, then this explains why so many chauvinists are ready to take ownership of the suffering of those they seem to share so much with. Our boys on the front-line, our old people, our kids.  In a world where nationalism still holds influence we claim such ownership of groups we elevate as abject in order that we might closer bring our suffering into focus. Yet it is not our suffering but the suffering of proximate (in one sense and another) others. Simultaneously this allows us to increase our quotient of suffering- to indulge in a safe form of pain and to express outrage about that pain, so as, precisely, not to face up to our own. Simultaneously, we do not have to face up to those sufferings that exist on an altogether more monstrous, undomesticated scale; the suffering of distant others, of swathes of humanity, those sufferings of which we ourselves are the cause and finally those sufferings that rear up in obscene dimensions. Finally, it is the ecological and cosmological dimensions of suffering that are here disavowed.

Parochial concern is the attempt to both experience and negate intimate and cosmic suffering; at the same time to indulge in a certain masochism without really being hurt. Parochialism, in all its forms, is little more than an exchange with death.

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