Further to my thoughts on death in the modern, developed world:
Bizarrely, the sudden, violent death that people do see isolates them even more from real death:
- Violent movies and television
- Video games
That’s not death. It’s a cartoon. It’s so preposterously unlike real death, no one can take it seriously.
The hero walks unscathed through a hail of lead, dispatching enemies in flames and explosions and downpours of blood.
If your X Box persona is killed, you press the reincarnate button and live again.
Worse, it’s antiseptic cartoon death. One doesn’t even need to wipe blood off the screen.
Meanwhile, in the real world, the most highly developed nations deal death, equally isolated.
First, in the 19th century, by long-range artillery. Then by aerial bombardment. Now, by cruise missiles and drone strikes.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favor of taking out bad guys without risking the lives of our soldiers and Marines. And those soldiers and Marines still see death up close, in a way almost none of us will experience or understand.
We as citizens are further and further removed from those who see death close hand. A tinier and tinier fraction of our citizens in the day of decision venture much for the liberties we now enjoy.
In a few weeks, the son of one of my Love’s closest friends will start officer training for the United States Marine Corps. He is everything one could want and admire in a young man: intelligent, cultured, thoughtful, respectful, kind, generous. He’s crazy handsome and built like a brick outhouse.
Even I, a notorious, lifelong lesbian, think this kid is a hunk.
While in college, he has served as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician. He has run into a burning building to save a child.
Did I mention he’s also brilliant? In a year, he will have an honors degree in physics and mathematics from one of our most prestigious colleges.
He could immediately make a six figure salary designing derivatives in an air-conditioned office on Wall Street.
Instead, he will venture his life for you and me. He will stand between us and sudden, violent death.