Saturday, August 21, 2010

EVERYONE dies eventually: My thoughts on death (and suicide)

Someone I know just died in her sleep. This person and I had been at loggerheads with each other on a number of political issues for the last 30 years but I still wanted to say something nice about her -- and so I came up with this: "She pissed me off so much that she forced me to come up with much more interesting and creative ways to overcome our disagreements -- which has made me a better person for having known her."

She also got me started on the road to being a political blogger -- because I figured that if I could survive 30 years of local political in-fighting, then taking on Cheney and Bush would be a stone cinch!

This person's sudden passing away also got me to thinking about how none of us are immortal. None of us. Her death came as a complete surprise to me, even a shock. If this person could die, then death could come sneaking up behind any of one of us, at any moment -- and it will happen to all of us eventually. EVERYONE dies. No one is immune. No one. Not even you. Not even me.

So. As long as we have been granted the magical gift of life, it seems clear to me that we should then be duty-bound to do the absolute best that we can with what we've been given. Fighting, killing, war, greed, lying? That's just a stupid waste of our time. Instead of just taking the low road, let's spend every possible living moment striving to be the best that we can -- 24/7. Think of Gandhi. Think of Jesus.

And for those of us who might sometimes envy the newly-dead, who get discouraged and occasionally wish that we too had finally Gone Home and were in some nice coffin and being sung to by a nice choir -- so that we would no longer have to trudge through our days under a cloud and feel so much pain, then here's a short lecture for you (and for me too). "We are alive now. Let's take freaking advantage of it."

And for those of us who are committing suicide the hard way -- by letting the earth get polluted and/or eating ourselves into a coma, allowing baby-killing nuclear waste to be created endlessly across the planet, allowing greedy corporatists to tear down the forests and kill the oceans that clean and filter our air, allowing bankers to steal our homes, letting Wall Street robber barons steal our jobs, drinking ourselves to death and/or spending our time in hundreds of other ways that we KNOW are unhealthy -- that's all just a stupid waste of time too.

Life is precious. Let's stop wasting it. It's like the bumper-sticker says. "Life is a competition. The winners are the ones who do the most good deeds." Let's shape up, guys. No more killing. No more hatred. No more pollution. No more greed. Sheesh.

You would think that at some point in time our self-preservation instincts might finally start to kick in -- but apparently they haven't so far. Clearly we've let our world fall apart -- when everyone with half a brain knows that we can do better. Much, much, much better.

So I'm grateful to the person who died recently, if for no other reason than because she gave me a huge wake-up call regarding the urgency of death -- and the urgency of life as well.

"Jane, you are starting to sound like one of those wild-eyed crack-pot street-corner preachers who go around shouting, 'Repent! The end is nigh!'" Yeah, well?

PS: One of my friends was just telling me about Star Children. "They are the new babies that are being born today and they have a raised consciousness and empathy and intuition and idealism. And they are arriving right now -- now when we really need them."

"Hey, I was a Star Child once too!" I replied. Once. Long ago. Before my idealism got all stomped on. It was really hard to be a Star Child back then -- when everyone around you was either fighting Adolph Hitler, working on their atom bomb chops, enforcing segregation, cheering on Joe McCarthy or trying to be June Cleaver and the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

"But it's not too late," answered my friend. "It's never too late to become a Star Child."

PPS: When the human race starts to die out from war and pollution in the next 20 years, the resulting scenario will probably run something like this: All those Americans who have consistently voted for unnecessary wars, against maintaining important government services and in favor of Wall Street bailouts at the expense of the rest of us will just smile in that infuriating Mona Lisa way that they have and say, "We have nothing to worry about! We are under the protection of God and Fox News!"

And God of course will be siding with us few remaining idealistic liberal-blogger patriotic clean-environment war-resister types (still hanging on here by our toenails) who, following in the tradition of Jesus, have tried to protect the downtrodden, to seek peace and clean up the freaking air.

And all those Fox News guys like Rupert Murdoch and Glen Beck will just continue to smirk down at you from on high while you struggle to eat out of dumpsters, choke on pollution and scratch at your nuclear-waste-induced scabs. "We only needed you for cheap labor, suckers," they'll say -- as they slam the doors of their air-purified bunkers in your faces. "And now that we have achieved our dream -- more cheap labor than we will ever possibly need -- there's no longer any need for you. Sorry about that." Not!