What if we awoke tomorrow in Aleppo, or Waziristan? Surrounded by real dueling hatreds, actual violent certainties, and visible threats to life and freedom, what would we think then of our domestic politics and attitudes?
What Otto sees clearly is all the hurt done to others in the world; and he realizes that its source is all the hurt and pain, and dysfunction, and intolerance within people all over the world. His own pain enlightens him, and he vows not to “pour hurt into an already overfull world.” The real work, he recognizes, is for each of us to clean the poison out of ourselves – to remove the unexaminable sureness from our own lives.
The way the mind works, says Merullo, is that it returns to inspect its bruises again and again and again. Childhood humiliation, physical abuse, trauma, loss, argument, injustice, all sorts of injuries – the mind goes back repeatedly, to check. It is what we do with those traumas that can give us our postures and attitudes, can give us our emotional profile.
How we respond to that challenge may inform the meaning we find in life, and it almost surely will often affect others around us.
Brian T. Watson is a regular Salem News columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.