The search for meaning meets suffering By Bella, Antonia and Reagan

What is the search for meaning?

The search for meaning is an expression used when you try and find your purpose and why things happen. The search for meaning is often linked with existential questions such as, 'Why am I here?' and 'What is the meaning of life?'

How does suffering affect the search for meaning?

When someone is suffering the search for meaning becomes even harder than it already is. Suffering can distract you from finding your purpose and changes the path you take to find it. During the journey of suffering you may feel like you have no purpose and life is meaningless but in the end you will come out a stronger human being

Summary of our article

The document discusses if there is meaning in life after something bad happens to someone and if their life will every have meaning because of this one event. Things such as philosophy, religion and theology are often used to discover meaning but can also be questioned when people are suffering or exposed to evil. Many questions asked by people suffering while searching for meaning are; ‘If there is a God why would they allow suffering and evil?’ and ‘Does suffering and evil have a part in an overall plan?’ Even when suffering humans still search for meaning because of hope that is within us even in the hardest times that there is a meaning.

Summary of information

* The article states that suffering and the presence of evil are important to someone in their search for meaning, and something that everyone should get through to be successful.

* The article poses questions such as why does “God” allow suffering and evil to take place? Does suffering and evil have a part in an overall plan? If so, is there any “real” evil?

* The article outlined questions for discussion including; how do you explain the existence of suffering in the world? Does the very presence of suffering prove Nietzsche* right, that ‘God is dead’? Is there such a thing as real evil?

* The article also poses that suffering and evil can be contemplating in regards to human freedom. Those who cause suffering, those who perpetrate evil, are human beings who choose to act in this way. Even then, the article delves deeper and questions whether those who make others suffer are really free. Yet this does not account for suffering caused by random events, such as natural disasters.

* The article also mentions Melbourne Theologian, Philip Kennedy’s attempts to explain the strange notion developed by Edward Schillebeeckx, many years ago, that God is ‘defenceless’ in the face of human suffering. Schillebeeckx developed this theory in response to an alternate which proposes that God is all powerful and just seems to watch suffering happen.

* The article then uses examples from Marks work with Greenpeace and his time in the South African army to help explain that hope is possible even in the midst of suffering.

* The article also talks about the theory of a Jewish Philosopher whose family was killed in the Holocaust. This theory is that suffering is indeed bewildering if it does not move us forward or motivate us to respond. If you look at even films for example, most heroes are only motivated to stand up and face oppression after some kind of suffering affects them in a personal way.

* The article concludes by saying “Do we have an answer for suffering and evil? No, we haven’t. But in terms of the meaning we have noted two things. Firstly, in spite of the immensity of suffering and evil in the world, human beings still search for meaning. This suggests to us that hope transcends even our worst experiences of meaninglessness. Oddly enough, it is often those who have suffered the most who still have hope. Secondly, while we cannot explain suffering and evil, we do know that in it and through it we are prompted to respond to others. This suggests to us that compassion and solidarity are ultimate human values, and that along with hope, they are integral to the search on which we have embarked.”

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