Sunday, March 7, 2010


What does it mean to be uncomfortable? I would very generally assert that the answer differs greatly from a western perspective and thus cannot be answered with full accuracy from that paradigm. You may then ask on what grounds I make this assertion, myself being a westerner? Admittedly, I make this claim in partial ignorance, but in partial knowledge. First, I am not all westerners, so in that sense I cannot speak for those in the west who, I am confident, truly know what it means to be uncomfortable. However, I am still a westerner, a westerner who has lived most of her life remaining almost wholly untouched by this concept of being uncomfortable. I am slightly if not more than slightly ashamed of this truth. And I would assert that a much larger percentage of the western world resides in this category of being untouched by discomfort, by suffering. Let us now define our terms: "uncomfortable."

To be uncomfortable, for the sake of this conversation, will be defined as "being in a state of discomfort; uneasy; conscious of stress or strain." This is a very general definition and can minutely be applied to some of the grossly generalized daily ins and outs of western life--such as experiencing discomfort over a hang-nail, or uneasiness over a big exam, or the stress and strain caused by rush-hour traffic; however, I wish to apply the definition more largely to some of the greater discomforts throughout the world--such as experiencing the horrible discomfort caused by lack of food, or the uneasiness over whether or not your family farm will survive a drought, or the stress and strain that visits those who's very lives are threatened by their religious or political convictions. These are very different discomforts. These are discomforts that the average westerner knowns nothing about. These are discomforts that I know nothing about. And I am indeed more than slightly ashamed of this truth.

My goal in this discussion is not however to foster guilt, that is never beneficial, but rather to foster an outward perspective. If I am honest, I am indeed grateful to have lived in a world mostly untouched by the greater discomforts of life. Almost without fluctuation I remain and have remained within my notion of "uncomfortability," rarely forcing my eyes outward to the sufferings of the world around me. This is not acceptable. One, because we live in a world that encompasses far more than ourselves and our own problems. Two, because we are called to engage with this larger world. And three because eventually our notions of discomfort will be altered by the ever-changing world we live in. I believe that before too long the western notion of "uncomfortability" will alter. We will learn the painful lessons of suffering. I do not say this with glee or anticipation in the least, but rather with a belief in the reality of the world. We should be grateful for our notions of discomfort, but never blind, ignorant, or obtuse to the "uncomfortability" of the world around us. That we would open our eyes. That I would open my eyes.

The "uncomfortability" of the church in the west, in American is a different thought, along similar lines, but for another thread. Until then...

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