Health Scare II

1 Nov

It’s All Hallows Eve tonight and I drove past an open casket with a skeleton peering out at me. Of course it wasn’t real. It was just a decorative home owner’s yard display but it got me to thinking about our views on death and the dead and the sick and the dieing. Ghouls, ghosts and graveyards are commonplace on Halloween but rarely thought about by humans on other days…at least not in terms of ourselves or our loved ones.

Death is our destiny and certainly a very personal one at that, but when we think about dieing and the dead it is almost always in terms of someone that we don’t know and who we don’t care about. That skeleton in the coffin could and would never represent someone so personal as myself or my loved ones…could it?

And yet still we are fascinated by death as though it will never touch us…until of course it so horribly and always untimely…does.

But we are not just fascinated with death on Halloween. We love to watch zombies in the movies and on television. We cheer on Dexter, the serial killer, even though there is absolutely nothing that would be cheer worthy in such a personality should he be real. We watch countless scenes of death and murder and violence, time and time again, on television. Whether it’s part of a fictionalized drama or on the nightly news, it’s really all the same to us…isn’t it? And war is just a lot of death all at once.

We debate guns and gun violence as though if it were to actually touch us in our lives it would be no never mind. We’d just better be ready to shoot the bad guy who tries to do us harm. No big whoop. And if little children get in the way of terrible violence perpetrated by disturbed adults…well, we didn’t know them…and if we did, our grief will consume any meaningful debate that we or others will have on the subject.

45,000 people die each year in our country, the richest in the world, because they cannot afford or have no health insurance…but in a country of over 300 million citizens they represent only .00015 of the population or about 100th of one percent, which in actuary terms is negligible, as in practically non existent. And it seems to me that is precisely why they die. Literally no one cares.

Mathematically, in a capitalist and materialistic society such as ours, of things and money and numbers, they simply do not exist. And to be fair there is probably no society of 300 million humans, no matter what their beliefs, religion or politics where those 45,000 people would exist or be cared about. So I wonder…

Would we all be better served if thoughts of death and its all consuming claim on our living soul were more dominant and influential in our daily lives? Would we feel more empathy for and consequently be more helpful to those who were not in our ordinary and personal sphere of the living…and the dieing?

Or would we be so consumed with that image of the skeleton in the casket as our own… that we would be rendered unable to make it through a single day amongst the living…and that part of us that is dieing with each day?

Perhaps it is our indifference with all things not us that makes life liveable… and which also affords us the uncanny and innate ability to debate war and violence and ghosts and graveyards and guns and medical care as though they are really and truly debatable things.

All we have are our precious lives…that is all any of us have…and it is equally precious to each and every self…and any skeleton, if he or she can ever know anything, knows that.

4 Responses to “Health Scare II”

  1. Harold Knight November 1, 2013 at 2:53 am #

    On September 28 I was thinking virtually the same things in my blog. You can’t be as old as I am. My friends tell me I think about these things simply because I’m getting so old.

  2. smilecalm November 1, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    yes, the body is gone, but the fruit of our actions never dies

  3. The Visible Woman November 1, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    Interesting post about the 45,000. Makes me appreciate our National Health Service over here where we are supposedly looked after ‘from cradle to grave’. It has its faults but woukdn’t be without it – a lifesaver.

  4. RAB November 1, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    A good moment to think of John Donne’s sermon (early 17th century)–and also that great line from Everyman, “O Death, thou comest when I had thee least in mind” (late 15th).

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