I once thought I could outrun Death–or at least avoid it–by turning away from the places it lived. When drugs and depression, a war in Southeast Asia and a plague in New York City took my friends, I promised myself I’d move out, duck, hide, stay beneath the radar.
An exercise in futility if ever there was one.
Death has driven itself into a twin tower, marched into the Middle East and Africa, put guns into the hands of narcissistic madmen and young warriors and knocked down desperately needed heroes. It has located friends across the country—young, old, prepared and unprepared. Our interconnectivity has insured we will not live one day without experiencing death live and in person.
No one likes Death. I hate the thought of it. Not my own, which will leave me with something or nothing but in any event less pain. No, I hate that it robs the living, leaving us with hollowed-out hearts. This is the nature of finite life, we’re told.
I might accept natural mortality were we humans not so determined to help Death do its work. What religious perversion or overweening egotism grants permission to kill? Of all the creatures on earth, we are the only ones for whom ass-backwards calculation factors into our violence. We almost never kill to survive. No, we’re impelled by fear or offense, a need to be heard or prove a point. We kill to dominate or subjugate. We know we’ll get attention one way or another. We’ve no lack of outlets ready to help.
Guns make it easier to kill. So does a mindset that allows for action without consideration. Of course I want to keep weapons out of the hands of people whose past meltdowns and dangerous or reckless behavior are a matter of public record. I’d also welcome an honest reassessment about the notion of giving and taking offense. We might ponder when free speech became an excuse for spewing hateful venom or showing horrific images. Maybe we can take a moment to reevaluate a culture that promotes entitlement and outrage.
We can’t stop Death but we don’t have to go into business with it.