Dying changes everything… Does it?
I’m not a sociologist, neither an epistemologist.
But I can’t avoid feeling disturbed by some events that sometimes happen to us, as individuals as well as to society as a whole, and I would like to find an explanation for those disruptions.
If our behavior is the outcome of something like a multiple variables equation, some of them internal, some external to ourselves, couldn’t we classify those variables in different degrees? How can we set some levels to separate those that have an impact on us, from those that doesn’t?
To clarify how wide the spectrum of possibilities can be, I’ll try to define first, the two ends of the events types:
1.- Inmediate, unavoidable and result of an evident causality process – basic needs:
Breathing, eating, sleeping, and some others, are needs that come from our biological condition: we are live organisms. With more or less spread and frequency, any of these needs will constrain us, being impossible to spend more than a short period of time before we satisfy them or have a serious problem: breathing, maybe 90 seconds in an average person; eating every 4/6 hours; sleeping on a daily basis, although with some exceptions. There surely are many scientific research studies to determine our limits to survive, when unable to feed these needs.
2.- Distant, irrelevant facts (for our everyday life):
A blast of a supernova (that might have happened millions of years ago and only now we know/see the phenomenon) occurs in the opposite corner of the Universe. It’s an event that will undoubtedly be relevant to those dedicated to the knowledge of the cosmos. The unusual events are welcome in euphoria just because of its occurrence. Providence can make some of us be witnesses of something that seldom happens, like every 50 years. But with hardly any effect on us.
Now that both ends of a possible classification have been exposed, I must post a warning: those who believe themselves to be optimistic, positive, happy and most of all, think it is utterly useless to scratch the surface of events in the past, can now stop reading. What comes next is nothing but a winding and rough way towards the reflection of a thorny issue.
The previous introduction has the aim of emphasizing those facts that make us react some way, any way. Some examples: on one end, we change the state we are in from one moment to the next. We break the inertia, and all of a sudden we take a new breath. We start feeling uncomfortable with a slight pain in a leg, so we change our position and sit better on the chair. On the other end, thousands of kids die every day of famine in the world but we still buy a new car, go on vacations or watch the latest movie (as you see, I’m adjusting the focus … you’d better quit reading now…).
Straight to the point: “Dying changes everything” so says House in the first episode of the 5th season. However I’m convinced that is not quite true. What I don’t seem to understand is why not.
Of all the types of deaths that threat human beings, though we find hard to accept any, the most despicable and incomprehensible is that one that comes from a neighbor. It’s true: there are stupid and unjustifiable deaths due to accidents or even natural. Death has also a different impact according to who is the one that passed away. Culture has a bias on us, making us “rate” death in a discriminatory way, whether it is an old person, a child or even a baby. Soldiers dying in the battle field are almost acceptable, since it’s a fate they have chosen somehow. Civil victims in a war are not acceptable, but fall into a category, most of the times, of a high yet unavoidable, price to pay.
We keep bringing all this load of death to a rational level in our minds, but death still have an effect on us, or at least it should. Without noticing it, we are being shaped somehow by the death of people in our closest environment, or even of those people who, although far away, have a significant influence on us.
What kind of vaccination is making us immune, more and more indolent each time, to the others pain, suffering and death? Are some cases like blast of supernovas, with no tangible effect on us?
Back again to the core of this post: Not accidental but intentional. Not to any one, but specific people we will see shortly. It’s not only death, but murder.
Ok, we know it’s the fifth commandment. Wait a second: the fifth? How come? Are the ten commandments in hierarchical order? And if so, we comply with the first four, then the fifth is less deadly? The law of God is not completely clear about this.
But what I’m actually trying to get to, is that within the spectrum of death types, i.e.: accidental, by illness, natural, murder, some are more influential on us, than others. And what I want to find out, is why some murders have consequences and some not, some affect us and others don’t really mean a thing to all of us.
In “The Godfather” saga, death plays a decisive role in the development of the story. In fact, it’s clearly showed what I’m trying to express through the title of this post: it is evident that death and murder are a very effective way to change the path of history (or to maintain it).
However, it is not the purpose of this post to list all the “famous” assassinations in history, neither make a chronicle of murder, since I would need to go back to Cain and Abel. But I do want to explore some of them, which although had happened long time ago, make me restless. Because there is the idea that the pain they brought meant enough suffering so as to keep on investigating beyond the “official” version of the facts. From my point of view, even if we decide not to further investigate these murders, there are “side effects” of them on us, which is what I do want to reveal. It’s the causality process I’m interested in. If there is any consistency in the murder of some specific people and how we, (both individually and as a society) are expected to react.
I’m not sure that the following murders followed a pattern or if they are related somehow, but no doubt they have been somehow paradigmatic milestones in History, and I would say that even traumatic to many of us. I too believe there is full agreement that neither of them “deserved” to be killed. Instead quite the opposite: they were all leaders in different fields, and all of them carried out significant projects not only for their close context but left a heritage to all mankind, and the consequences of their actions is the reason why the whole world mourned their loss.
Chronologically ordered, they are:
Abraham Lincoln (1865)
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1963)
Malcom X (1966)
Martin Luther King (1968)
John Lennon (1980)
Anwar El Sadat (1981)
Indira Gandhi (1984)
Isaac Rabin (1995)
We can see that in many cases, they were activists of peace in the world, Nobel Prizes, slavery abolitionists, drivers for industrialization of their countries, and so on.
Let’s leave aside all paranoid, suspicious and negative ideas. Of course, it’s not that I think it is not worth, but I’m quite more interested in having an insight rather than finding out the truth of the facts. The same applies for how recently or not, these murders have been committed. Although Abraham Lincoln was killed about 150 years ago, I can’t help thinking that we’ve been taken an exceptional personality, a leader with which I share more values than with Ronald Reagan or even with Barack Obama.
It is painful that although in many of these cases justice has been applied to the authors of the crimes, society has abandoned quite easily by means of a gentle and childish mourning, the preservation and continuity in time of the rights these people stood up for. We, as a society, are somehow killing them for a second time, when we cease demanding to the institutions and establishment, all the rights in which we believe.
Have a look at JFK speech: “The President and the Press”:
It’s amazing! It’s imposible to believe that John F. Kennedy would be faking something so clearly exposed, so close to what all democratic people would aspire to. I always felt that having JFK been alive all through his term of office, the whole world would have been completely different.
Of course slavery has been banned, but we must ask ourselves which are the unfair and oppressive means that constitute our current “slavery”, in order to abolish these new terms of control. Because, we cannot fool ourselves: somebody is getting benefits from it.
The finding so far, is that these assassinations convey a message that could be expressed like this:
“Don’t keep on fighting for these things. Death may be awaiting you at any time. Keep on with your comfortable life, and don’t mess yourself around with these matters. It is not worth.”
And we, from the back of our minds, answer: “yes, sir. Of course. absolutely right. There is no reason to risk our lives for a few abstract principles. If I’m doing fine so far, why bother?”
More than asking ourselves why the assassination of these leaders didn’t have major influence on our lives, we should be starting to wonder what do we become by not reacting, and most important by not impulsing in a structured and global way, the ideas in which we believe.