Skip to content

Pain Is A Good Teacher — By John Reed

Pain Is A Good Teacher
I got my first bicycle at age seven, and quickly discovered the most important part of learning how to ride was learning how to fall off. It didn’t take too many skinned knees and elbows before I figured out the right way to dismount before disaster struck.
As I got better at this bicycle thing, I got cocky…and paid for it. I still have the scar left by the handlebar bolt when I tried to jump a curb. Pain is a good check on hubris.
Children learn through pain. It only takes touching a hot iron once to avoid repeating that mistake. The scars we get from such mishaps are reminders, part of the learning process.
Societies learn painful lessons as well. Human history is full of episodes that have resulted in pain, death, destruction. Afterwards, memorials are erected: often to celebrate a victory, sometimes to serve as reminders. The Genbaku Dome in Hiroshima and the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor are reminders of the horrors of World War Two.
The thing is, societies don’t naturally enjoy painful memories any more than individuals do. Spouses in unhealthy relationships often focus on perceived good times instead of the bad. And unthinking activists think tearing down statues will somehow change the past.
I believe our statues and memorials are the path to the future. The more painful the reminder, the less likely we are to repeat the mistakes that caused them to be erected. The past is done, unchangeable. Our future will be better when it’s informed and reminded of the pain we’ve endured.

Leave a Comment