(By Kiram Tadesse)
It was when Ebola epidemic shake West Africa that I was proposed to visit Guinea – an Ebola virus epicenter at the moment – to observe the scene from the ground. I was neither desperate nor dreadful about that deadly virus rather eager I was to witness the problem. I don’t know if that was from some frisky omen. But, as I announced that plan to people around me, everyone’s breathing suddenly seemed to stop, all smiles, and perhaps their future thoughts of me, instantly vanished at the thought that I am going to die on spot. I would say that was ‘an Ebola syndrome’ too.
In fact, we are all going to die someday, because we learned over the course that “mortality” is one of the givens of our existence. Therefore, every one of us, one way or another, must confront the issue of death – our own death and that of the people we care about. Unlike religious convictions of any form, it would be also difficult to pinpoint any other fact of life so fiercely resisted and denied death.
“We have an immense repertoire of behaviors through which we deny our powerlessness in the face of death; from seeking symbolic immortality through children, flags, causes, fame, to persuading ourselves that we are indestructible by living recklessly and irresponsibly, to consoling ourselves with the belief that death is an illusion,”as written by Nathaniel Branden, therefore,death appears all the more mysterious, all the more frightening, all the more remote from our existence. We are less and less prepared to deal with it or to accept it. Aren’t we?
What we know from this verdict is that, however, we live fully in the present, thus we need the context of our mortality understanding that ‘we do not have unlimited time’. The ticking of the clockthru the falling of leafs down the streets we walk every morning, the rising of buildings we see in town are not a tragedy. What would it be then? It is indispensable to the meaning and excitement of life.
But, thinkers say that our body never really dies. It merely decomposes into its various elements and becomes reintegrated with nature implying that the body is immortal, while at the same time they optimize with that, consciousness never really dies. It merely becomes reintegrated into the great cosmic pool of consciousness from which it came. For consciousness is therefore immortal as well.
Accordingly, everything that made us will have ceased to exist but it will no longer be us. How? This is just to create comfort among ourselves that we are alive for only a limited time with body and that of consciousness. Who shall tell what would happen then we are gone that two way?
For Branden, paradoxically, it is those least able to live in and enjoy the moment who seem most preoccupied with longing for eternity are people in whom death anxiety appears to be conscious; they are obsessed with thoughts of death. A morbid and highly verbal preoccupation with death is more often than not a reflection of fear of life.
Our societies are yet to take the material adequacy although faith issues are also quite unclear at this stage, and we are also people who endlessly complain about the swift passage of time.
Which one are we afraid of – life or death? A fear of life and a fear of death co-conspire against growth, individuation, love, creativity, and evolution. Which according to Braden, an unresolved fear of life or of death equally obstructs the emergence of healthy self-esteem.
If we do not know how to live in the moment, we will not know how to live in eternity, well said. And I wouldn’t argue more on that to accept the reality of death and to know how to live life could also be one effective way of mitigating our purpose and existence as long as we are “here”.
While the difficulty of accepting and integrating the fact of mortality is doubtless as old as humankind itself, it has often been observed that ours is a culture in which denial of death is exceptionally pervasive. Grand ma has survived by her dozens of grand children and this keeps.