30.6.08

what shall we do with death...

death

just that word alone gives people odd thoughts, tingles and nervous feelings

it’s not something we want to think about, talk about, or experience, and in today’s society it is almost taboo

human beings have an innate fear of death, likely because every one of us knows it is inevitable...we do everything we possibly can to slow down our aging process, to slow down time, to put a stop on dying in any and every way we can come up with...yet no matter how rich or famous or powerful or influential one may be, or how invincible one may think he or she is, he or she will still eventually die

in our culture, one of the largest philosophical questions that arises is “what shall we do with death?” Albert Camus was the one who said that death was philosophy’s only problem and that anyone who has watched a loved one die understands that problem well

Dr. Ravi Zacharias says “In the West, when responding to death we hold two postures. Our public decorum is distinct from our private pain. No culture on earth does more to dress up death while at the same time reducing it to a “ho-hum” reality in the workplace. However, our hypocritical indifference to death is turned to unbridled rage if the dead or the dying are in any way seen as victims of some imperialist power at whose door the blame can be laid.”

the question of death and what to make of it is not only the private concern of the religious, but it has drawn the attention of everyone, even agnostics and atheists alike...it pleads for a response

when it comes to the topic of death, most of us have schizophrenia...Sigmund Freud describes this in relation to our feelings during tragedies, natural disasters, and even war:

“Our previous relation to death has been disturbed. This relation was not sincere. If one listened to us, we were, of course, ready to declare that death is the necessary end of all life, that every one of us owed nature his own death and must be prepared to pay this debt – in short, that death is natural, undeniable, and unavoidable. In reality, however, we used to behave as if it were different. We have shown the unmistakable tendency to push death aside, to eliminate it from life, and to avoid it at all costs. We have tried to keep a deadly silence about death: after all, we even have a proverb to the effect that one thinks about something as one thinks about death. One’s own, of course. After all, one’s own death is beyond imagining, and whenever we try to imagine it we can see that we really survive as spectators. Thus the dictum could be dared in the psychoanalytic school: at bottom nobody believes in his own death. Or, and this is the same in his unconscious, every one of us is convinced of his immortality. As for the death of others, a cultured man will carefully avoid speaking of this possibility if the person fated to die can hear him. Only children ignore this rule... We regularly emphasize the accidental cause of death, the mishap, the disease, the infection, the advanced age, and thus betray our eagerness to demote death from a necessity to a mere accident. Toward the deceased himself we behave in a special way, almost as if we were full of admiration for someone who has accomplished something very difficult. We suspend criticism of him, forgive him any injustice while on earth, pronounce the motto de mortuis nil nisi bene (“let nothing be said of the dead but what is good”), and consider it justified that in the funeral sermon and on the gravestone the most advantageous things are said about him. Consideration for the dead, who longer need it, we place higher than truth – and most of us certainly also higher than the consideration for the living!”

perhaps the appropriate label for our society is not schizophrenic, but thanatophobic (thanatophobia is the fear of death) and hypocritic...just look at the life of someone like George Carlin, famous comedian who recently passed...nothing but good has been said of this man and his life now that he is no longer here...however, if you look at his life and the utterly crude and vulgar things he professed to commend, quite boldly in fact (one of his major comedy acts was called "Religion is Bull-****" in which he stated the lines, "Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity" and "I would never want to be a member of a group whose symbol was a guy nailed to two pieces of wood."), very few of us would actually have much good to say about him...but we'd rather exalt someone like him because he has died than to exalt someone who is living that is actually making a difference in the world

the truth of the matter is, we are terrified of death, because none of us who is alive has been completely and permanently dead...none of us knows what to expect, and even those of us who believe in a literal heaven or afterlife are still somewhat leery...so most of us go around pretending that death doesn't exist, and when someone dies, we exonerate his or her character, while at the same time, deep down inside, we are scared that this person didn't "make it" to the afterlife, if that afterlife even exists...the death of someone else is usually the only time we think of our own, especially if it is someone we care about...we think about our own death usually in relation to whether or not anything is to come after the fact...whether or not there is, once again, something more


so the question remains... “what shall we do with death?”

there is only One who has the answer


...part 2 coming soon...

1 comment:

Paul said...

What then shall we say about death. As I think about what how we should precieve death, my mind ofter wonders to open fields with thousands of white tomb-stones across them. Weather the men/women who now lie in those fields were once brave, loving to their families, passionate about what they believed, or were simply the total opposite, there end still comes the same. Death. No matter what one's name is called, or how much wealth someone "accumalates," death still comes rapping at your door, most likely sooner than later. When I think of death, I still am reminded of all those names written in the Old Testament books of the Bible and realize that now every one of their lives began and then... ended. It is how God designed us from the beginning, and it is how our beginning will someday end...