Lately I have taken to looking at crosses, strangely abundant in the land of the iPod. Where the iPod takes freedom as its point of departure, the cross refers backwards, it would seem, to suffering. I'm surprised how often the cross shows up, in every kind of place -- often around a person's neck!
Suffering relates symbiotically to consumerism, which produces and reproduces it, while never acknowledging it as its motive power!
Consumerism, we might say, is labor performed under duress for reward in the market. The reward is the market, because it is only in the market where the individual experiences power. The most abused may hate his work, but insofar as it forms an access point to the market, he requests more. Buying things approaches him as the material inverse of suffering, each time promising to make it obsolete.
Suffering is a natural part of the act of life, but consumerism sells the cure for what ails ya! What once was a normal reaction to hardship is now diagnosed as abnormal. While the hardship continues, our reaction does not: this is the new "normal."
For its part, the cross -- and not only the cross, but the Buddha as well -- always references suffering. To be alive will be inevitably to suffer. This is the truth of the cross, which lent power to whomever directed their suffering in an active, conscious way.