“Do you feel pity?” I asked.
P shrugged his shoulders but his eyes lit up, “What is pity?”
“Compassion. Do you feel sorry for a person who suffers?”
“Pity causes spite.”
“Yes, this is true,” I said, because it does, you know. No person enjoys to recognize one’s own failure, to capitulate one’s independence and freedom and submit to the help of another peer. And I feel pity for the bitter resentment it causes too, but I feel pity, my soul drenches in pity.
“This is true,” I said, “because people are incomplete, but their sufferring is not only self-complacent but it is in need as well. One does not exclude the other, suffering is double headed.”
“People who suffer are selfish. Their need is too absorbing to considerate and I do not feel pity with such people.”
“Let me tell you a story about the peasant Marey, a terrifying figure for the child that Dostoewski was, living at the real estate of his family. In the dark wood while picking mushrooms the child heard suddenly a wolf’s howl. Terrified the child ran out of the wood straight at the peasant Marey who was working the land. Marey comforted the child and put his earthened fingers against Dostoewsky’s lips to hush the child’s cries. Later in the labor camp Dostoewski reminesces the childhood experience and it enables him to dig for the diamond in the common man’s muddened heart.”
“So you believe in the utter goodness of man?” P smirked knowing that this would bring him to a sure victory with a world so evidently full of betrayal and evil intentions.
“I believe that a newborn’s soul is innocent,” I shifted the emphasis.
“Ah, you are a behaviorist! But many of our characteristics are inherited, it’s simple genetics. It is like the love reaction,”P now bared his teeth in a wide grins, assured enough by his right in victory to joke playerishly.
“Some people cannot love, there’s simply no love reaction in the designated part of the brain. It’s the nurture versus nature debate.”
“People inherit a leniency, this is genetics, but it is the conditional context that gives final form to the tendencies of our nature. Our genome is a blueprint, it’s but an idea,” I was confident I was back on track again.
“People are incomplete. They suffer from this given alone. And more tragic our nature is! We are inable and incomplete, and so we lack a great deal. We suffer but are unable to overcome, so we fail to express what is dear to us. We live in an artificial state of wanton for it cannot fullfill the incomplete state nor can it heal the inability we suffer from.”
“But all we do. Why should I pity those who are more inable than others.”
“People in pain keep you on a distance, but the distance is a trial. A buffer that prevents pain, like the person, suddenly blind, stops walking forward.”
“Fear you should not walk away from.”
“But I have no need to be tried,” P now snapped back in fervor.
“You don’t think there is a great reward after each great trial?”
“What reward? What reward greater than everybody else’s?” He now expressed a heartfelt lack of understanding what I was arguing. At many points in our discussion I could simply mute myself and find agreeance in his counterargument. But I stubbornly sought for faults in his reasoning, for convincing proof in my own thoughts, not because I was convinced I was right, but I was fond of the notion of pity, of constancy, yes constancy…
“Constancy,” I said, “there is noblesse in constancy!”
“No more noblesse than in any man’s soul.”
“I pity you,” I smiled, I knew that my European love for pity was part of an inherited and eclectic tradition of idealizing the Christian and eastern sacrifice from which I could not detach myself. This romantic tradition I hold dear in disregard of my secularized upbringing.
A Struggle for Pity
“Do you feel pity?” I asked.