We are all heartbroken and perplexed as the news pour in that yet another famous, beloved, successful person has made the decision to terminate their life’s experience. “They had the perfect life” we say, “how/why could they possibly have…”.
But we are missing some pieces, and we cannot make a sound judgement without having more of the pieces.
I have pondered on suicide for years, and firstly I must say that I don’t like the word we use for it. The word is violent, and while the external aspect of suicide appears violent, it also can be the most benevolent action the person suffering can take for themselves.
Our issue with suicide runs very deeply and broadly.
The New Testament in the Bible does not portray what we call “death” the same way that the Old Testament does.
Even though we believe ourselves to be Christian, we live far more adhered to the views on attachment to living (as long as possible), seen in the Old Testament than the surrender to the flow of life expressed in the New Testament.
Here are some questions to ask ourselves as individuals and as societies:
- Is anyone obligated to live for us or others if they no longer want to live for their own selves? If the answer to this in your mind is “yes” then, to whom is this obligation? To the offspring? The family? The government? God? And why?
- What has made suicide a moral dilemma? Is it our own fear of our own mortality and our failure to face and overcome it? Are we scared of someone who is not afraid of the thing we are most afraid of?
- What is it about suicide that scares us the most? Is it our idea that to be mentally healthy we must all love/want to live forever and if someone doesn’t there is something wrong with them?
- Where does compassion end and coercion and manipulation begin? It is good to care for sufferers of mental illness, but love and compassion should prevail over force, coercion, blame and condemnation. And if they don’t, it is us we should be looking at.
- Can we accept that not all suicides stem from depression and be respectful of an individual’s choice even if we don’t understand it?
- Can we make ourselves think of suicide more as “quitting their temporary life” rather than “suicide”?
- Isn’t it time that we embrace a new perspective that includes the logic that we have no rights upon the life of another person, — even if they are very close to us, and the loving logic that our duty before the order of the Universe/God and before one another is to love and support one another, and not to criminalize someone for failing to do what we want them to do to make us happy or less scared? (Essentially nothing that would rock our boat).
- Can we picture the hypocrisy of the statement “how selfish of them to take their lives”, when it is us who are selfish and immature for wanting them to live a life they no longer wanted just to please us? Just to not rock our boat? (We can grow when our boats are rocked).
- Can we see that maybe one of the meanings of their departure is that life is giving us another push to get us inspired by their lives and take on their example of living their talents to bless the world and stop hiding, like a seed falling to the earth and producing not one, but many new flowers?
- Are you very scared by suicide? This probably means that you need to explore this area of your life with more openness than ever.
This issue of people quitting their lives is not going away; instead it will only become more imperative and relevant to your life and mine; we might as well roll up our sleeves and start dealing with it better.
What is God to do with this part of the creation that never wants to die?
Animals are okay with it, and every one of our cells (except the sick ones), are okay with it too; in fact our cells voluntarily die and be replaced by new ones constantly because they are in the service of the whole body, not of themselves. And those that are in the service of themselves are cancerous.
It is our minds that are scared of moving along in this natural continuum of birth and “death”; the same minds and ego that refuse to live in the present moment and also refuse to let go of a life like that, spent in the past and future, which is hardly living.
Yesterday I was watching a documentary with Morgan Freeman where he explores society’s (mis)interpretation and fascination with “the apocalypse” and he was interviewing a couple who experienced hurricane Katrina.
They expressed their devotion to God and that they knew that God was going to come through for them and not let them die.
But what about the thousands that did die?
Did God fail them?
Was their faith not strong enough?
Were they worse than?
How can we maintain a logic that absolutely crumbles like wet paper upon the slightest analysis?
And, how arrogant are we, and insensitive to those who suffer the worst loss? Not only do we flaunt our survival as a “spiritual success” but essentially denounce the non-survivors (by default) as having been forsaken because they didn’t survive physically, ignoring the fact that we go from life to Life.
Shouldn’t we instead just lovingly celebrate their lives? Their joys, their sorrows, their successes, their lessons and all they shared with us?
As Solomon said, some of these things will befall ALL OF US; not because or despite being good or bad but because we are physical beings and the physical aspect of our being is perishable like the fruit we buy at the supermarket. Period.
It behooves us to live lives that are true, to have jobs that we won’t be ashamed of when we are aspiring our last glorious breath. (Debt collectors, get nice or get another job).
It behooves us to not judge other people for things we do or do not understand (most likely we do not understand), and to extend compassion, love, acceptance and support. As we support others in their trajectories through life, we are also supported; it works reciprocally.
If we truly want to live, we must embrace both sides with equal gusto and zeal.
We are here for a glorious moment of opportunity to demonstrate what our will is and whether we will lean to collaborate with the whole, or be self-centered, insecure and fearful.
A Thank you to our beautiful departed…
Thank you Brittany Maynard, for your incredibly brave and loving journey that left a legacy that will go on until your light reaches everywhere.
Thank you adored Robin Williams, where to begin with you; thank you Avicii, for giving us your tremendous talent and for increasing the joy in the world; thank you Kate Spade, for being so brave and awesome; thank you Anthony Bourdain for your brilliance and infectious joy of experience… and the list goes on and on and on.
It is said that a person who understands the true nature of things will not cling to life and it is rather more likely to be content to leave it. A conundrum to the ego who is like Gollum in Lord of the Rings.
With deep gratitude for the inexhaustible work of these phenomenal people, for their heart which they gave us, and their lives that will live on as long as we do.
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Copyrighted material 2018
Originally published at medium.com