Death is a part of us. We are programmed to die; this program on the level of our organism is called phenoptosis (in biological terms). Each of our cells contains the whole molecular machinery for programmed cell suicide scientifically called apoptosis. Some cells die unprepared and almost uncontrolled as a result of damage caused by infection, physical or chemical injury, – it’s called necrosis. Death surrounds us, makes us what we are, yet many of us are scared to die. This fear is a part of an instinct of self-preservation and it’s needed for animals to survive and leave a progeny. It is normal.
I have never understood it in humans though. We are more than just our instincts. We are aware of our mortality, we are self-aware in general. How can then we fear something, which is inevitable? We all know that our physical bodies die eventually, yet many of us still find death something terrible. We are still slaves of our instincts, but we can be stronger than them if we are brave enough.
To me death is a fact of life. Worry or not – we all get there. Once we get passed that logical hurdle, here’s another complication.
We find death very sad. I agree with this sentiment only to some extent. If someone is born (without being asked about whether they wanted it or not), surely he Or she deserve the right to live as long as they want (until their natural death) provided they don’t step on someone else’s right to live. So, if someone dies at a respectful age out of a natural cause – I don’t feel sad about that, I feel like – “mission accomplished”. If someone commits suicide because they wanted to die because they think it’s their time or in order to finish their suffering caused by natural events (a terminal illness) – I don’t blame them, I don’t think euthanasia is a sin either.
On the other hand, people often commit suicide because they are unhappy – I find that very sad. Surely, they should try to change their lives to find happiness or to solve their trouble instead of just terminating their lives. That’s just an extreme form of escapism, and I’m very much against that. I’m also very much opposed to the rules of life when people are driven into such a misery – they find a death the only way out.
So, to me it’s not about life or death, it’s about freedom, a fundamental right of people to freely choose whether to keep living and to die. If people have this right, I believe nothing can stop them to be happy, wealthy, successful, great, interesting, you name it.
Understanding that death is your only limit on Earth, and it’s inevitable, should be liberating. It should make us explore life in its fullness, to fight for better life for ourselves and help those around us.
Yet, around the world I see millions of oppressed people. Many of them are unhappy with how central or local government, their neighbors, friends or family treat them, yet they are afraid to stop the rule of thieves, dictators or bullies and start changing their lives.
They fear it could get worse. A new bloody revolution, getting beaten up their husbands or fired from work. They think it’s better to suffer. I translate it – let’s rot and being used, because a possibility of change is too scary. Let our children rot too.
Do people in North Korea think this way? How can it possibly get any worse when they have already lost their most precious possession – freedom.
I think people stay oppressed because they don’t think enough about death. Memento mori, Romans used to say. We forget about how short a human life is. We forget that a life full of inaction, laziness, fear and oppression can be changed. Everyone can do it.
We can start afresh now, I mean now now, as single individuals or as a group.
Live like it’s your last day and tomorrow is the judgement day (I’m not telling you to abandon mortgage or rob the bank, just to be braver).
Make your mum proud, she gave birth to you.
Think about death and find courage to live a great life, to be in control, to reach your dreams.