screamMy essay this week for Imaginative Conservative is an abridged version of one of the chapters of my book The Quest for the Creed

Pleasure anesthetizes the soul, but pain is the pinch that wakes us up. What makes us face the largest and most dangerous questions of life? Sometimes pleasure, but more often pain. Someone is diagnosed with cancer or we cling to the precipice of life after an accident or a car knocks down our child. Then in the terror and tremendous pain we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we exist. There in the screaming darkness we understand that we are alive even if we wish we were dead.

Pain proves our existence in a negative way. It screams out to us that something is missing. Something is wrong. Things are not as they should be. Pain is very powerful, but it is not positive. It is real, but it is not reality. Pain is like a shadow. As a shadow proves the existence of the object that casts the shadow, so pain proves our existence. But a shadow not only proves the existence of the object that casts the shadow, it also proves the existence of light. The light is the positive quality that, by default, produces the shadow. Likewise pain, because it is negative, tells us not only that we exist, but that there must be such a thing as an existence without pain. In the same way hunger and thirst not only prove the existence of our stomach, but they demand the existence of food and drink.

Read the whole article here