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Friday, December 14, 2012

Prideful Death

Bonnie Young John Donne

With my father dying, I am facing a terrible fact of life: the inflexibility of it all as far as the ends are concerned. I never really think I conceived of a brick wall before, totally adamantine and immoveable, but so it is.

Strangely enough, this realization and acceptance of death turned into one of those ironic twists that life  -  at least, my life, I guess  -  is full of; it seems that only by facing the inevitability of death and the terrible finality of it do we begin to see a glimmer of life beyond death sort of sparkling around the edges of that immense cloud.

I am here, and I am with death every day now. I have been here, and I have been with disasters and murmurs and visions of disaster for a number of years. So have you all. The Mayan Calendar on December 21 is only the latest, even though it actually precedes the Fiscal Cliff. The Government did not create the Cliff until some time after Mayan end-of-time was being chattered about:  blah, blah, blah, end of the world, blah, blah...

We have come to expect some sort of political disaster or environmental disaster or wars and tortures with a fairly strong regularity of tempo and beat. In August I was beset with the strong sense that I was to very soon die. Perhaps I am, but it became clear within three months that it was not I, but my father who had this appointment in Samarra with death.
We are marching in a danse macabre, are we not? Every bloody holiday that comes along is ruined by some sort of nonsense  born of the ideology of the weak-minded, fearful, and clueless.

When disasters are everywhere, and you realize that we cannot escape them, whether they be fiscal cliffs or debt ceilings or wars in the Middle East.... Cannot! We cannot escape!
and only then can you realize that we have been living a scenario of death and destruction which was made up before our birth, and which we studied as eager catechumens, and by which we have lived our entire lives so far.

Some, like the poor Rev. Camping, have their End of the World and the Second Coming, and they have it embarassingly over and over; some have war after war after war; some have futile surrogate wastes like "wars" on drugs and other things they have demonized...

Inevitability is a literary device.
It is alien to God's will.
Nothing really dies forever, and nothing is disastrously vile and evil, except that which we choose to allow to be so.

I told a friend this. He said, "What if a comet were to strike the Earth and destroy life? Wouldn't that be a great evil beyond our free will and choice?"

I do not think so. Life paces with life everywhere. When we have achieved the intelligence to protect ourselves from destruction from space debris, we should be spending time and effort to do so, not wasting money on greedy pursuits. We are technologically advanced. If bad things happen which we could have addressed by our technology, but did not do so, then we made our choice: the wrong choice, but we freely made it, and once again in our time we have chosen evil.

The Pride and Arrogance of Death depends upon our continued ignorance and fear.

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee   
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,   
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,   
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.   
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,            
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,   
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,   
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.   
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,   
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,     
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,   
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;   
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,     

And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

May death itself die? Again, an irony that makes me happy, for I have learned to embrace the ironic, knowing everything will change: the bad to good, but also the good to bad.
The only way to avoid the ironic change from good to bad is to be so thoroughly humble that one's good estate does not even dawn into one's consciousness.
This requires long discipline in the present day.
This is the goal of religion, all religion. It is the basis of the Golden Rule, for we cannot even approach the morality of that Rule unless we are able to live unfettered by the idol of  "self-awareness"  (best exemplified in the endless Cult of Celebrity on TV and in print) we have set up for ourselves.


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