Was wandering around the local supermarket to top up the groceries yesterday and caught an old half remembered Matt Monro song “We’re gonna change your world” over the PA which contained the line “Died for others to live better…” Which tweaked a cynical nerve.
I found myself asking the question “How does dying improve life for other people?” Well, they might be a complete, irrevocable, anti-social, destructive pain which humanity is better off without. Yeah, that would help. If the person to die were damaging to the rest of humanity, certainly their death might help others live better. Like putting down a monster will save them taking more lives. But what I’m driving at today is the whole notion of martyrdom, be it religious or secular. Who does martyrdom, in light of even the most cursory examination, help? It’s almost exactly like suicide, this willing surrender of precious life. Because no matter what anyone else tells you, you only get one.
Now I’ve seen it written down that there are few good reasons for dying, but an awful lot more for living. Causes to die for? Don’t make me laugh. That kind of cause is as cheap as chips and common as shit, because it’s not the people who want you to cease to exist for their espoused ’cause’ who are in the front line. Besides, dying is easy, any bloody fool can do it. The real challenge is ordinary day to day living and making life better for others one day at a time. Now that’s hard.
In the Western Christian tradition, we are indoctrinated from our first words that a certain Judean Carpenters son ‘died for our sins’ around a couple of thousand years ago. And I reiterate my question, why is dying for other people a good thing? Surely living for them might be a better idea. Living people can build, debate, repair, love and compose. Dead people, no matter their symbolism, can only decompose.
Perhaps if Joshua Ben Joseph had got out of town while the getting was good there would have been a whole lot less religious persecution and a lot better carpentry. The Jews would have had it better too. No two thousand years of Christian or Muslim inspired pogroms and massacres because Christianity might have become a different faith, and Islam might never have arisen. Which from a casualties point of view, might not have been such a bad thing. Pagans too would have been better off with fewer of them burned alive, not so many drowned on ducking stools or any other form of religion inspired execution.
Unfortunately, what I have learned about humanity during my life is that, at least emotionally, so many bog standard humans resemble Minions for their spiteful zealotry and mindless tribal tendency to bicker in what appears to many, complete gibberish. Unlike the cartoon Minions, the real life version is neither comical nor harmless.
So in all probability these zealots would have only found another excuse to violently attack and even kill others in remarkably inventive ways down the centuries. Often over little more than a difference of opinion. And will continue to do so on the least pretence. Not only will they let their untrained Dogma crap all over your philosophical lawn, they’re more than willing to murder you and yours if you object. Then tell everyone else they did it because you were ‘a ‘bad’ person. For whatever they say is ‘bad’. Even though you are no real physical threat to them, your contrasting opinion cannot be heard, because they say it’s wrong. As we have seen with the anti-Trump protests. The unhinged zealotry of the protesters, and their willingness to do harm to others holding an alternative point of view are a classic example. They view all opinions outside of their own tight little sphere as heresy, and in earlier times would most likely have been enthusiastic witch burners or ardent National Socialists. The same mindset applies. Even if these zealots are guilty of the same ‘sins’ as those they accuse. It is their violence that separates them from those who have a justifiable grievance.
Me, I’m content for people to hold other opinions, but am of the strong view that martyrdom or death in any cause save immediate preservation of your family or defence is utterly barking.
Anyway. Hospital this evening for scans and fluids. Lots of bloody fluids and lying still holding my breath wishing I could see what the scans were telling me. Not sure what’s up. Perhaps some of those people who screamed “I hope you fucking well get CANCER!” in my face back in the day are getting their wish. Perhaps it’s something more benign. Whatever the quacks find, I’ll deal with it. Although I happen to be rather fond of living, and will use any available means to keep indulging my favourite breathing habit, no matter how irritating it is to some. Because my dying will not improve anybody else’s life. Also because, in the words of Robert Frost;
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
And the promises I have solemnly given must and will be kept.