MS. TIPPETT: The kingdom of God?
BROTHER THAY: Yeah, because I could not like to go to a place where there is no suffering. I could not like to send my children to a place where there is no suffering because, in such a place, they have no way to learn how to be understanding and compassionate. And the kingdom of God is a place where there is understanding and compassion, and, therefore, suffering should exist.
MS. TIPPETT: That’s quite different from some religious perspectives which would say that the kingdom of God is a place where we’ve transcended suffering or moved beyond it.
BROTHER THAY: Yes. And suffering and happiness, they are both organic, like a flower and garbage. If the flower is on her way to become a piece of garbage, the garbage can be on her way to becoming a flower.
“The health problems cascade from there. The economy is built on physically grueling jobs. An injury causes pain, which causes depression. Depression makes it harder to work. People gain weight. The weight gain leads to sleep apnea and sometimes to diabetes. Diabetes can exacerbate vision problems.
To top it all off, there are few doctors in the region, and Virginia rejected the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which would have insured an additional 170,000 people. Because getting to a doctor is hard and expensive, people self-medicate with prescription painkillers, alcohol, and tobacco. Eventually, said Smiddy, the pulmonologist, “they become dysfunctional. They’re weaving behind the car. They’re setting the stove on fire. It’s not that they’re bad people. They’re probably faith-based people, family people. Most are just trying to function.””