Tragically dead?

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Well here it is election day on Writer Beat.  Given the nature of this forum one might expect a political piece on this day. There are several of these already and most of what is to be said on these matters has already been stated exhaustively from all sides. As I sit to write this morning my mind has been taken to a different place so I do not begin with the intention of making this political. Within a climate which has become so highly politicized, however, I won't rule out a different conclusion. I suppose we'll both decide at the end.

 

I happened to glimpse the tag on a piece of clickbait early this morning. It read "tragically dead at 42".

I needed to take a moment to ponder this choice of adverb. Was it the death itself which was tragic or the fact that it occurred at 42? To determine this there is a bit more information required. Without this the story is incomplete and we've no way of knowing if indeed tragically is the appropriate choice. Consider this:  Doe, aged 42, died today. Doe was born without limbs, genitalia or eyes and suffered a lifetime of chronic diarrhea. Now in this instance, after 42 years, one might consider that the adverb mercifully would serve as a better descriptor. What is so special about any life that makes it's end tragic? The vast majority of human beings who have exited this mortal coil have done so in complete anonymity.

 

What other types of death do we see? There are the suspiciously/mysteriously dead, mostly populated by trial witnesses, judges or political opponents. Oh, and holders of large insurance policies. There are the figuratively dead, of course; those who are cursed/blessed with the words "you are dead to me". These are rather frequent I understand. We also have both The Grateful Dead and the grateful dead, burn victims residing squarely in the latter. 

 

Surely we can agree that there are those who fit the mold of the deservedly dead. All of the usual suspects there: Hitler, Mao, Jeffrey Dahmer, Pol Pot. There are some other notables which belong on that list, but outside of about a dirty dozen or so the additions to this category become a rather subjective matter. Some of our readers, I strongly suspect, might say the Ronald Reagan or Antonin Scalia belong in the category. I would disagree, but understand their sentiments. I have to confess that I would be very gratified to deposit a large, steaming pile of excrement upon Woodrow Wilson's resting place. I'd just be returning his favor.

 

There is really only one adverb which applies universally to all of our deaths: necessarily. At some point, to purposes that lie beyond our ken, we shall all be necessarily dead. The tragedy or grief, relief or elation, justified or felonious, all of these are the province of the living. Dead is dead. Death is easy. Only living is hard. 

 

Today is election day. Tomorrow some will find their hopes have died. Again, for a purpose not for us to know, these hopes will be just as our own eventual fates: necessarily dead. The rest of us will have to continue living.  If you have reached the point that the results of an election leave you feeling that there is nothing left to live for? Well then you, friend, have joined the ranks of the necessarily dead, albeit ahead of schedule.

Comments

Michael B. Added Nov 6, 2018 - 8:42am
Several years ago someone at work came up to me and said, "Did you hear what happened to so-and-so?", the subject person being one of the biggest and dumbest morons and assholes I've even encountered. I said, "No, but please tell me the motherfucker's dead." Yes, he was; it turned out that this idiot and several others were killed in an accident. The person expressed some shock at my attitude, but I told her that the world was a better place. Death is necessary, more necessary for some than for others. It turned out that the asshole caused the accident, which wasn't much of a surprise to me.
Leroy Added Nov 6, 2018 - 8:52am
" Death is easy. Only living is hard."
 
Reminds me of Josey Wales and Ten Bears:
 
Josey: You be Ten Bears?
 
Ten Bears: I am Ten Bears.
 
Josey: I’m Josey Wales.
 
Ten Bears: I have heard. You’re the Gray Rider. You would not make peace with the Blue Coats. You may go in peace.
 
Josey: I reckon not. Got nowhere to go.
 
Ten Bears: Then you will die.
 
Josey: I came here to die with you. Or, live with you. Dying ain’t so hard for men like you and me, it’s living that’s hard; when all you ever cared about has been butchered or raped. Governments don’t live together, people live together. With governments you don’t always get a fair word or a fair fight. Well I’ve come here to give you either one, or get either one from you. I came here like this so you’ll know my word of death is true. And that my word of life is then true. The bear lives here, the wolf, the antelope, the Comanche. And so will we. Now, we’ll only hunt what we need to live on, same as the Comanche does. And every spring when the grass turns green and the Comanche moves north, he can rest here in peace, butcher some of our cattle and jerk beef for the journey. The sign of the Comanche, that will be on our lodge. That’s my word of life.
 
Ten Bears: And your word of death?
 
Josey: It’s here in my pistols, there in your rifles . . . I’m here for either one.
 
Ten Bears: These things you say we will have, we already have.
 
Josey: That’s true. I ain’t promising you nothing extra. I’m just giving you life and you’re giving me life. And I’m saying that men can live together without butchering one another.
 
Ten Bears: It’s sad that governments are chiefed by the double-tongues. There is iron in your word of death for all Comanche to see. And so there is iron in your word of life. No signed paper can hold the iron, it must come from men. The word of Ten Bears carries the same iron of life and death. It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life . . . or death. It shall be life.
opher goodwin Added Nov 6, 2018 - 8:59am
Burger - hopes and dreams never die no matter how many times they are dashed.
I vote for life.
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 6, 2018 - 9:01am
I reckon so :) My favorite Clint Eastwood film!  There it is, in a few short sentences. All of the wasted lives and paper to treaties that meant nothing. These two fellas had the whole plan figured out. This was Jefferson's ideal of how this country was meant to work. Instead we've been lead down the path of the snake oil salesman. Or better, more like another character from the film: that dirtbag that ran the ferry. 
Michael B. Added Nov 6, 2018 - 9:08am
My favorite scene was when he spit tobacco juice on the snake oil man, then asked how the snake oil worked on stains. Classic!!
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 6, 2018 - 9:34am
We get born, we dip our toes in the stream of life for a spell, then drift away in that stream. Most of us leave no trace other than a ripple in the stream of life that lasts but for a bit.
 
And now, for something completely different!
TexasLynn Added Nov 6, 2018 - 10:17am
Though he can't outdo The Outlaw Josey Wales... there was an earlier writer who considered the nature of life and it's eventual end...
 
"Life ... is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." -- William Shakespeare, Macbeth
 
If there is one thing that can be said of this election and today's society... it's FULL of sound and fury.
 
It's pretty ironic that the Texas boy is quoting Shakespeare while you clods (intended only in the most positive of lights) are quoting classic westerns.
 
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TBH >> I have to confess that I would be very gratified to deposit a large, steaming pile of excrement upon Woodrow Wilson's resting place.
 
Amen... one of the most vile human beings to ever breathe air; and he would fit right in with much of what we see on the left today.  People think America escaped fascism in the last century... Wilson proves them wrong.
 
TBH >> Today is election day. Tomorrow some will find their hopes have died.
 
I do care about the election and many other things... but your point is well taken.  If your whole being and happiness is wrapped up in this crap, you've got problems; and that goes for both sides of the political spectrum.
 
Obama's election was a tragedy for this nation... but I survived eight years of the boob without losing my mind.  I would have done the same had Hillary Clinton won.
 
But... many, MANY in this nation (and this forum) didn't survive eight days (without losing their minds) when the wheel of fortune turned against them in 2016.  I can only imagine the level of derangement if it happened again.
 
TBH >> Again, for a purpose not for us to know, these hopes will be just as our own eventual fates: necessarily dead.
 
Forgive my thoughts turning to my faith on this... but a lot of us religious folk have a few fallbacks to these little annoyances of lost elections and eventual death.
 
Men do not control what we place our ultimate value in and death is not the end, but the beginning.  Pretty convenient, huh...
 
If we're right, amen.  If we're wrong then we are like every other man who lived and died, infinitesimally insignificant.  I guess I can live with either... but then, what choice do I have? :)
 
Great post, as usual…
Stone-Eater Added Nov 6, 2018 - 10:50am
Life is not there to vote for a change which is never going to happen anyway. Sand in the eyes and staring at the brick wall.
 
Get out and LIVE. Don't give a shit about things you can't change. Vote for YOUR life and fuck them all.
Cliff M. Added Nov 6, 2018 - 1:17pm
Some of the "Grateful Dead" are dead. "I'm not dead yet".(Monty Python).
Marty Koval Added Nov 6, 2018 - 2:46pm
Physical death is obvious for all people and cannot be prevented. Only the Maker (God) knows when your time will come.
 
Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 - 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.
 
Death is not necessarily the end of everything. For the person who accepted Christ into his heart as Lord and Savior, will experience what is the following two Bible scriptures:
 
John 11:11-14 - 11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,
 
Job 14:13-15 - 13 “If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me! 14 If someone dies, will they live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. 15 You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made.
John Howard Added Nov 6, 2018 - 3:53pm
I am convinced that, once I am dead, I won't mind it at all.  It actually sounds quite comfortable.  I used to be dead - it was for several billion years, as I recall - but then I got born.  Now, I just sample it for awhile most nights and still find it doesn't bother me any.  I'm sure I can handle several billion more years without hardly trying. 
Jeff Michka Added Nov 6, 2018 - 4:35pm
Nobody gets out of here alive, Kovel, even you.  So, it's okay to "let us prey," because when dead it won't matter.  Sounds like the fascist position on AGW:  If things get bad, it won't be for a while, and by then we'll be dead and won't care, so why change anything.
Jeff Michka Added Nov 6, 2018 - 5:37pm
"The Queen, my lord, is dead"
"Out, out brief candle...Life...is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets its moment on the stage, then is heard again no more, 'tis a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."  So "the cowboy quotes Shakespeare?"  You learn your Willy Shakes from a Readers Digest condensed version, TraitorLynn?  Calling Shakespeare Willy Shakes makes him relevant in the "Time of Rap."
Lindsay Wheeler Added Nov 6, 2018 - 5:49pm
Here in Michigan, in just the past two days, a girl scout troop was out doing their civic duty by picking up garbage along a side of road. They were actually in ditch picking up garbage with chaperones. 
 
A twenty-one year old "huffing" with his passenger, left the road and hit five of them. Three Girls Scouts are dead. A woman chaperone is dead and another Girl Scout is in the Hospital critically injured. 
 
This was TRAGIC. When old people die, it is not tragic. To go before your time, like in old age, run over by a druggie---now that is Tragic. 
 
(The driver has turned himself in.)  Sad. Sad. Sad. Nothing but complete sadness. And parents that have to bury their children. These Girl Scouts out doing their civic duty---run over by a druggie.
Marty Koval Added Nov 6, 2018 - 7:01pm
Over the last 50 years, the entertainment industry has glorified the use of alcohol and prescription/illegal drugs. Thereby enticing many vulnerable people to get addicted. These people not only end up damaging or ending their own lives, but many innocent people, because of their impaired and careless behavior.
 
Every day, 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 50 minutes and 10,497 annually. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.
 
Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal) are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes and deaths.
 
The vast majority of these tragic deaths could have been prevented, if people would heed the warnings and dangers of these mind altering substances.
Dino Manalis Added Nov 6, 2018 - 7:19pm
 Unfortunately, there are too many tragedies!
TexasLynn Added Nov 7, 2018 - 10:24am
The Michka >> So "the cowboy quotes Shakespeare?" You learn your Willy Shakes from a Readers Digest condensed version, TraitorLynn?
 
Wow! Everybody! Michka can use Google!
 
The Michka >> Calling Shakespeare Willy Shakes makes him relevant in the "Time of Rap."
 
For those who seek to be relevant in the "Time of Rap".
TexasLynn Added Nov 7, 2018 - 10:25am
Michka!  When is this trip to Europe you mentioned!?  How can we miss you, if you won't go away!
Dr. Rupert Green Added Nov 8, 2018 - 5:54am
Excellent piece, Hidage. I took a sojourn to submit a Million $ STEM grant proposal as opposed to crying about the problem.  As I read your piece, In reflected of my time in the classroom where I scaffolded youth into writing a paragraph, three sentences would be a tome for them. So I would place a period on the board and ask them to write something about it. They are frozen. So I scaffold. What is it? Where is it found? How is it used?  Answering that should produce five sentences. I see how you used a fearful and perplexing topic and simplify its profundity with light and reflective questions.  There are so many rhetorically and narratively living dead among us that you could be accused of berating the Republicans who became dead to the leadership of the house.  A paradox is so many was biblically among us yet they deviate from its tenet of not speaking ill of the dead--wishing the most horrible death on some which you named.
 
Your reference to the grateful dead has me pondering about the ungrateful dead? Are there any such creatures. I wonder if one is a lifer serving two live sentences, being giving three squares, and bitching fills that descriptive.
 
We have come a far way with dealing with our deads, making disparate descriptive adjectives welcomed.  The extra work of your wishing to dump on the grave of a particular dead would have been easily accomplished in the past. You merely ate that dead person. Yes, we ate our dead in the past and some perhaps still do. We had dragged our dead around with us before we began to bury that stinking shit. I can't recall the order of eating or dragging. Yes, in a particular tribe in Africa, the dead are cremated, mixed in a liquid and drank. They are eaten to be carried around. Some sought their victual in the head of the dead. Hence, those ASMats of Irian Jaya were some man-eating mother shuckers. Well, I hope that my recent post about the political outcome will enlighten some deadheads.
 
The Burghal Hidage Added Nov 10, 2018 - 6:14am
Always great to hear from you Doc!

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