As you get older, there’s a catalog that starts to form in your head – the roster of your beloved dead.
In every name, there’s this physical ache. But also, a great deal of joy at the memories.
What do you do with that ache? Well, you bear it. I think you become stronger. Death doesn’t get easier, but you get more of a workout of your “dealing with death muscles.” And I guess there’s something good in that.
Building up your “dealing with death muscles” doesn’t make you colder, as you might think. If anything, you get warmer. Understanding that you can lose people – lose them out of your life, out of the world, and forever – softens you, allows you to realize that this is all temporary. Makes you more loving, more forgiving, more appreciative of the days in which you and your loved ones are alive.
Losing people makes you stronger, but also more conscious of the joys of everyday moments with friends and loved ones. Both the strength and the joy cross over into other areas.
On the other hand … it seems to me that weakening the realization of death, lessening the magnitude of the tragedy, lessens both the strength and the joy that arise from it.
There are side effects to everything, aren’t there? Of course there are. But the side effects of religion, because we have lived with it and within it for so long, are largely invisible.
Yet I believe strongly that if we could step outside things for a moment and see a society unaffected by religion, we would be horrified at what it’s done to us.
One of those things is that, in seeking to lessen the tragedy of death, by assuring us that our loved ones live on forever in paradise, it has stolen from us a great deal of our real-life, day-to-day joy.
I think it has also lowered the bar on killing, making wars and executions MUCH easier. Because, hey, they’re not REALLY dead. We’re just moving them along to this other place, right? No biggie.
This is post 9 of 12 of Blue Collar Atheist’s Blogathon in support of the Secular Student Alliance. Donate by clicking the “Contribute” link in the SSA ad over in the right column. Or go to the Secular Student Alliance directly.
Or just click this button (It’s the exact color of Pepto-Bismol, isn’t it? Makes me think it’s a way of saying “I’m sick of how powerful religion is in our society, and I want young people to be offered this other choice.”) :