Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 23, No. 1, 2024
  Current Issue  
  Back Issues  
Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Jason McDonald
  Contributing Editors
Louis René Beres
David Solway
Nick Catalano
Robert Lyon
Chris Barry
Howard Richler
Gary Olson
Jordan Adler
Andrew Hlavacek
Daniel Charchuk
  Music Editor
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
  Photographer Jerry Prindle
Chantal Levesque
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Charles Tayler
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somerville
Mona Eltahawy
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Glenn Loury
Richard Rodriguez
Navi Pillay
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward




Gordon Marino is a professor Emeritus of philosophy and the former Director of the Hong Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf College. He is the author of The Existentialist Survival Guide: How to Live Authentically in an Inauthentic Age. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Newsweek, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Not to join in on the Olympics of suffering, but many of us who enjoy comparatively privileged lives, dismiss the idea that because there are infinitely more serious grievances taking place around the globe and even up the street, that should not prevent us from moaning about being forced to miss a long awaited vacation in Cancun. Until recently, I conveniently talked myself into imagining that suffering comes in different flavours and the various types are incommensurable; incommensurable, “as in you can’t compare missing my long planned vacation with the agony of a parent whose child was buried beneath the rubble of their bombed out building.” Last night, I learned, "Of course you can and should."

At around 11 PM, I rushed my wife to the emergency room in the city. Pains in her chest, she was short of breath and feeling dizzy. A research scientist herself, she was profoundly aware of the fact that heart attacks are more difficult to diagnose in women than men.

The ER was mobbed but a nurse was quick to check her vital signs, all of which were good. Still, we were instructed to remain in the waiting room until the frenetically busy doctor could complete a more thorough check up.

Despite the reassuring news, my wife was still rattled. She was thirsty but not allowed anything but ice chips in case an operation was necessary. Feeling cold, a nurse toted out some warm blankets for her. When she moaned about back pain the same nurse brought her a pillow. Soon she started begging for a room where she could lie down and escape the hubbub of the ER. But there were no vacancies until about 1 am. Later, when she was finally wheeled into a room with a bed, there were more precautionary tests including and EKG and some blood work, which would need to go the lab before we could go anywhere.

It was about 2 am and though I was keeping my mouth shut, I was becoming increasingly irritated by the long wait. Worse yet, woe was me, we had missed dinner and my stomach was growling.

Thoughts are like bubbles and soon one floated to the surface as I recalled a news report from the night before describing the indescribable hellish situation in Gaza, where lack of power rendered the operating room inoperable. There, as well as in Darfur, Haiti and myriad other spider traps of misfortune and inequality where medical resources were so scarce that people expired from ailments that could have easily been treated in the Emergency Room I was grousing about.

Looking for a vending machine, I went out to the packed waiting room looking for a vending machine. There I glimpsed an exhausted looking mother frantically trying to comfort a feverish baby thrashing around in misery.

As doctors walked by without a word, I became increasingly annoyed at the long wait. Then the image seeped to my brain of a clip I had seen on television; it was one of a wailing two year old in a Gaza hospital bleeding profusely from a head wound. She had lost both parents in a bombing and was just lying alone on the floor.

That image was enough to ring the alarm, to quiet my growling belly and belly-aching and to remind myself, “Wakeup stop and acting like a baby. Show some patience and gratitude for the fact that you and your wife have won the lottery and will be cared for.”

My sage of preference, the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) believed there was nothing more poisonous to the spirit than the compulsion to constantly compare yourself to others, and to understand yourself in terms of those comparisons. Contra Kierkegaard, I found myself in a situation in which comparisons were not toxic, but an epiphany to the effect that Mr. Privilege’s petty pangs could in fact be put into useful perspective by putting them up against the suffering of others with no trip to Cancun and no ambulance on the way to take them to the ER.

also by Gordon Marino:
Ali: Couldn't Stand Him Back Then
Boxing & Aristotle










Arts & Opinion, a bi-monthly, is archived in the Library and Archives Canada.
ISSN 1718-2034


Comedy Podcast with Jess Salomon and Eman El-Husseini
Bahamas Relief Fund
Film Ratings at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
fashion,brenda by Liz Hodson
Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal(514) 844-2172
Lynda Renée: Chroniques Québécois - Blog
Montreal Guitar Show July 2-4th (Sylvain Luc etc.). border=
Photo by David Lieber:
Valid HTML 4.01!
Privacy Statement Contact Info
Copyright 2002 Robert J. Lewis