Mortality … something we all deal with and will ultimately succumb to.
There are many tomes written about death. Scientists and medical professionals give us many guides about handling and treating various diseases; poets share philosophical thoughts about life and death; plays, movies and television shows use death as part of their plots; the Bible, Tanakh and Quran all deal with death and the rewards or punishments awaiting those who live, or don’t live, according to their scriptures’ teachings.
I’ve been thinking about death. The past year the world has witnessed incomprehensible death by something we can’t see or understand very well. It seems COVID has tilted the axis on how we think about so many things. Many are still dying natural deaths (whatever that really is), accidental deaths, suicide, and deaths by diseases and conditions that we accept as real.
I don’t recall if there were ever such social and political division about heart disease/attacks, strokes, cancer, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, ALS, and the many other illnesses and conditions that can lead to physical debilitation and death. COVID is a flashpoint that divides rather than unites us as a species with a brain that can supposedly process complex thoughts.
Science has brought much to the quality of our existence over the past decades. Unhealthy teeth caused early deaths. Tuberculosis, polio, small pox ravaged communities. Fortunately, science has reduced those risks immensely so children and adults can move and interact freely. Hopefully the vaccine for COVID will eventually be something that is managed seamlessly in society.
My thoughts about death of late are tied to how we are treating each other these days. When masks are known to mitigate – not eliminate – the risk of catching or passing along a potentially deadly disease, why are we fighting about them? Why are they a political statement?
Why are they an intrusion? COVID deaths in our country will soon exceed 450,000. That is a staggering number, yet many seem unmoved. Sadly, some still deny the existence of the disease. That’s like denying cancer, an amputated leg, heart attacks or strokes. Who does that? People have died alone, bodies are in makeshift morgues, funeral homes are beyond capacity, our healthcare staffs are stretched to breaking.
I have heard some who stand on their anti-abortion platform, but don’t want to be inconvenienced to wear a mask, social distance or get a vaccine. They feel it their moral duty to tell others what to do with their bodies, but feel infringed upon when society requests help in reducing spread of a potentially deadly disease.
We are talking to each other as if we are enemies instead of temporary cohabitants of this earth. Some are using death terms about their fellow citizens: let’s hang them, let’s shoot them, let’s exterminate them. Whoever “them” is, we seem to be at odds with something more than political disagreements. We seem at odds with humanity itself. The reality is, we are humanity. We are at odds with ourselves.
We’re all mortal. Our time may come far too early, or far too late. Isn’t our short time here too precious to spend it bitter and fighting each other? Hasn’t hate caused enough death?