The Boy Who Took All The World’s Suffering
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
There once was a boy called Jonathan.
He was 16 years’ old and he was happy. That’s how everyone would describe Jonathan: happy. He was smiley and good-natured and everyone loved to be around him.
And it was true; he really was happy. It was just his natural disposition. Sure he’d have the odd disappointing thing happen to him – he’d mess up an exam, a girl might not text him back, his chocolate digestives would sometimes break apart mid-dunk and fall into his tea, but generally speaking, Jonathan thought his life was pretty good. He had great prospects and was excited about the possibilities the future had in store.
So he was happy!
But the problem was: other people weren’t happy. Some people seemed to be going through mental anguish and emotional turmoil. They had terrible things happen to them – there were kids at school whose parents had died, or who were poor, or who had dandruff. And then he noticed that some people seemed to be sad no matter what their circumstances were. Almost as if being unhappy was a fixed part of their personality. They were just sad.
And it made him sad. It was the only thing that did. It made him question a world that he was otherwise at peace with. Why couldn’t everyone else be happy too?
He felt guilty about his happiness. He thought he didn’t deserve it. His natural tendency to see the world through a positive lens combined with the fact that nothing that bad had ever happened to him, well, it felt unfair.
When he was younger, he just assumed everyone was like him; life was a fun adventure full of joy and opportunities, surely everyone could see that? But as he got older, he realised that people were suffering around him. He started to become obsessed with it. He wanted to know all the different ways in which people suffered. He read about the atrocities of war and famine and disease. Not only that, he learned about sexual abuse and domestic violence, he became an expert in all the ways people suffer mentally, he found out that poverty could drive people to drug and alcohol addiction.
It all overwhelmed him. How had he been so naïve?
Then one day Jonathan passed a homeless man on the street. This man was in a proper state. His face was bruised and his fingers were bleeding and he was screaming in agony.
“Any change, mate?” The homeless man managed to blurt out, between screams.
Jonathan started to cry. Like a baby. Like a little cry-baby. It was all too much for him.
“I wish I could take your pain,” Jonathan said. “I wish I was the person suffering.”
All of a sudden, the bruises on the homeless man’s face began to disappear, the bleeding in his hands stopped, and the screams went away. The hunched posture of the homeless man gave way to a confident, upright stance and he walked away, looking just as healthy as any other pedestrian that day in Bristol (where this story is set btw).
Meanwhile, Jonathan’s face swelled, he started bleeding like a bastard, and then began screaming his head off.
And so came the realisation: Jonathan had a superpower.
It turned out Jonathan could take away other people’s suffering and put in on himself. All he had to do was wish for it.
So when he got home that night, he got into bed and he started wishing.
His Dad had always had really bad back ache, so he wished to take that away. His sister had just been dumped and he wished to take away her heartbreak. His mum was going through the menopause, and so he thought, Fuck it, I’ll take that as well. So he lay there, clutching his back in agony, eating chocolates and listening to Never Ever by All Saints, while experiencing a series of hot flushes. Then he remembered the kids at school – the ones whose parents had died, or who were poor, or who had dandruff. So he took that suffering on as well. He hurt all over and his scalp was itchy as fuck. But it wasn’t enough. It still bothered him that there was so much suffering out there.
So he started wishing to take on the big suffering, the suffering of famine and war and disease. He felt it was his duty. Soon the suffering of entire nations was transferred over to him. He took away people’s mental turmoil. He took the suffering that resulted from prejudice and marginalisation. He went through every possible way that a person could suffer and wished that he was the person feeling it instead. Eventually he took on all the suffering in the world.
He’d finally got rid of everyone’s suffering. People were suddenly unburdened and the bliss and joy they felt was unlike anything the world had ever seen. But now Jonathan was suffering. And his suffering was much worse than anyone could imagine. An incalculably large amount of emotional and physical strain was put on his mind and body. As the whole world danced around him, he writhed on his bed in agony.
Surely this is too much to bear? One man can’t carry the whole world on his shoulders, can he?
He screamed and cried and began to regret what he had done. He was happy before. And maybe he wasn’t saving the world, but at least people liked to be around him. He made people smile and laugh, and maybe that was enough.
As the combined suffering of 7 billion people tore him apart, he screamed:
“It’s all been a big mistake!”
And the worst part was, when people came to visit this heroic boy that had saved them from suffering, they didn’t like what they saw. Why would they? Old Johnny boy was suffering his bollocks off. That’s not good to look at. In fact, it made them start to feel shitty again. It was likes roles had reversed. It was so difficult to look at this boy suffering that people started to feel worse than they did to begin with. And in turn this made Johnny feel worse. Which made everyone else feel worse again. What a disaster. An infinite loop was established. Everyone was in the shitter now. One man’s honest attempt to bring relief to the world had led to more pain than humanity had ever faced.
And all this because he couldn’t walk past that homeless person without saying anything, like any normal person would’ve done.
Fuck’s sake Jonathan. You daft twat.
Anyway, that’s about it.
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