"A [cooperative] society needs human beings...full of passion and enthusiasm for the general well-being, full of...sympathy for his fellow human beings...."
-- Rosa Luxemburg, From The Socialisation of Society
THE MEDIATING MISERY PROJECT
A Special Project of the Agape Order
Whilst we move through our lives most of us experience pain and suffering in a measure, sometimes good measure. Generally, however, though our challenges and difficulties can prove complex or daunting, we muddle through somehow.
However, there are certain brothers and sisters who have been struck with especially catastrophic, daunting, or overwhelming circumstances. Examples of such individuals are those with gross facial deformity often caused by the malady "neurofibromatosis" in some cases causing a tree-like appearance of the face, in other cases missing portions of their face because of severe burns or other physical trauma; those suffering the catastrophic physical condition where the human skeleton actually dissolves; those who have experienced the death or even murder of several family members, especially if occurring in a macabre or gruesome manner; those suffering Hansen's Disease (i.e. leprosy); or those suffering especially debilitating psychological or cognitive conditions such as the worst forms of schizophrenia.
In good Buddhist tradition, and in accord with simple common sense, one realizes that problems unacknowledged will likely never be solved. In all too many instances our brothers and sisters suffering these conditions hide away, in great torment and deeply self-conscious, feeling themselves social outcasts. The most injured among us, however, are our brothers and sisters and we must help them.
As we traverse life we occasionally encounter such persons, but a quick change of the television channel or a few fast paces in the opposite direction at the Mall is all that is required to make everything right with the world again. However, as long as such maladies exist, and as long as our world is sufficiently malformed such that this kind of suffering and condition continues to reproduce, all is not right with the world, nor will it be.
Yet, we don't want to engage with these brothers and sisters. We find it upsetting, and difficult. And we have our own problems, oftentimes severe or serious in their own right. Instead, we vow, "Next time, I'll make a larger contribution to the March of Dimes." No! Engage with these people! Look at them! Do not avert your eyes! Look at them, and yes, get angry; get upset; get depressed...and then channel these emotions in concert with other people into a serious search for the reasons our global society remains structured in a manner that produces, or tolerates the continuing production of, malady and injury of this magnitude.
To this end, the Mediating Misery Project seeks to 1. persuade us to refrain--if only for a few minutes--from changing that television channel, or locomoting so quickly away, in favor of direct engagement with individuals suffering these ills, and 2.) motivate us, through anger or sadness, to look closely at the root causes of such continuing devastating injury, and question whether our global society devotes enough funding and other resources to preventing these most spectacular human injuries, and if not, why not. Is the problem one of awareness, will, or a deeper systemic problem? Did the original design of our now-overarching system of global capitalism have as its singular or even principle goal the facilitation of human happiness?
The Mediating Misery Project does not generally address itself to such single maladies as blindness or loss of a limb. Such loss is undoubtedly traumatic and not to be minimized; we must, without question, embrace and assist brothers and sisters living with these challenges. However, this particular project addresses itself only to those brothers and sisters suffering the very worst maladies, the most devastating and debilitating, for these are the ones easily and often forgotten, yet so urgently requiring our love, attention, and focus.
ATTENTION: One of our brothers pictured below suffers a facial deformity; two other brothers pictured suffer severe facial deformities. Please scroll slowly down the page and through each image, one or two mouse clicks at a time, to allow yourself time to perceive and digest each image. Ultimately, however, brothers and sisters, do NOT fear these images--these are our brothers in the human family and we must and do love them. We must and will engage with them.
Yes, we'll allow ourselves our sorrow for their condition. But ultimately we'll stay strong for them, and for ourselves, to resolutely help build a love-centered world where social and personal resources easily and organically go to ensure a reasonable measure of human happiness. A world where our mighty global economy operates cooperatively to pro-actively ensure health and happiness for everyone, instead of toward the present end of profit maximization for a small owning class. Then, we can drive to the bone the likelihood of human calamities like this.
Our sister organization People For a Cooperative Society has the peaceful creation of such a love-centered Cooperative Society as its singular goal.
Please also note that at least two of these brothers are undergoing repeated surgeries to rectify their deformities, and appear to be showing improvement. Moreover, in at least one case, that of James O'Neal, there is a surprising spirit and strength. The three images below are presented in vague order of severity, least-severe to most-severe. Photos have not been retouched; these are how these brothers actually appear at present.
Look at them!
~ Love Yourself, Love Others ~
THE AGAPE ORDER