Advanced Essay #4: The Healing of Pain

A lot of research went into writing this essay. After reading 'The Things They Carry', I wanted to explore the deeper meaning of pain and the way each and every person experiences it. It was hard to find the perfect resources for my essay, but I ended up finding two perfect interviews, and a great image reflecting my words. I spent a long time trying to word my thoughts in a way people would understand, and although it was a challenge, I was able to use suggestion from my peers to write a piece I am proud of. I made sure not just to discuss the single meaning of pain, but the general meaning, so basically every single type of pain, whether it be physical, emotional, mental, etc..


Imagine being surrounded by an entire army, pointing all their guns at you. Unarmed civilians also surround you, fearing their lives, but knowing that they can’t back down because it’s a sign of weakness. One man steps up, knowing that there could be consequences, he decides to make peace between the army and the civilians, so he steps up, and all the guns are pointed at him, not you, yet you still fear. He places flowers in the gun, and no one makes a move or a sound, as if the man was now surrounded by the dead. He shows no signs of stopping, and as his bouquet of flowers becomes one single flower, you realize that it wasn’t fear of death you were feeling, it was fear of tyranny, and this man had just proven to you and everyone else there, the hypocrisy of pain and violence. One might think the previous statement was created to get them thinking of a somewhat realistic situation to better explain the healing of pain. It is anything but fictional, it’s an image of truth. The truth may be dreadful and uncomfortable, but this image expresses the tenderness of pain and its remedy. This is an image of life, a life put through violence and war, yet effectively reacts to a situation with the power of silence and influence.

Healing of agony can be conceived through an action, a memory, a statement, an image, or in better terms, it can be formulated in different ways, but as stated by Veena Das, a theoretician and ethnographer, there are two things that all healing has in common. “The notion of healing carried two ideas: the idea of endurance, and the idea of the capacity to establish a particular relationship to death….” One has to be willing to accept the pain they suffer to be able to alleviate the pain. In this way, not only is their acceptance, but realization that the pain will never go away, but awareness that mending pain is much stronger than any kind of pain itself.  “But I was very struck by the ways in which pain does write itself enduringly on people’s lives. It was not about a thunderous voice of pain, but about the manners in which pain was woven into the patterns of life.” You have to be open to all pain, to the consequences, or else healing will never happen, and only pain would ever exist. The thing is though, that without pain, life would be nothing. We would never experience reality, and we’d be selfish because without pain, we would get everything we wanted and thought we deserved. Pain draws a fairly clear line between selfishness and selflessness.

There is a single word that can bring terror and pain to many in an instant, a word so powerful that the meaning is pointless because it is nothing compared to the suffering and suffocation one is already in from just hearing the word. War...the word is war. As clearly stated by author Chris Hedges, “Yes. I think for those who are in combat, it very swiftly can become an addiction. War is its own subculture. It can create a landscape of the grotesque that is, perhaps, unlike anything else created by human beings.” Experiencing war in any way is a very difficult and uncomfortable experience that no one should go through. For soldiers, it’s as though war is a separate world, a separate language, or a separate life. Once in a war, you can never get out, even if the war is officially over. You become so intimate with it, that you can never forget about it. The horror will always be in your dreams, and the pain will always be crawling up your spine, and to your head, where you always remember every dreadful moment. War is something so unique and spectacular, that it is almost a mystery to the human race. We still explore war and it’s many characteristics, that is why war still exists and will never go away. There’s no meaning of war yet because we still don’t understand it, and there will never be one single clear definition. It’s existed for hundreds of years, yet it’s still something new and fresh that is somewhat unknown to our race.

A life with no pain, is a life not lived to the fullest. We suffer and always find a way to blame someone, yet the only one to blame should be ourselves, for not allowing leeway for reflecting on the good. Pain is different for everyone. Some might experience it through violence or war, and others might experience it from love, or hate, or even just life itself. Healing is a reflection of pain, and that is what needs to be understood to be able to live on, not move on, but to live your actual life, the life you grew up living. We must understand the difference between all pain, whether physical, mental, or emotional. As human beings, we have the right to express our pain, our anger, and our fight to healing. As human beings, we have the right to live.


"Listening to Voices. An Interview with Veena Das." Interview by Kim Turcot DiFruscia. 2010. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <>

Abernethy, Bob. "Interview: Chris Hedges." PBS. PBS, 2003. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <>.