Saturday, February 28, 2009

Facing Life's Certainties with Dignity

For a six year old girl, death is perhaps just the absence of somebody in this world, that there is somebody who will be missed. Of course, even for a child, an encounter with death isn't so selfish: for a child with the gift of faith, there is an expectation that the deceased - especially one so spiritually pragmatic - has simply moved on to a better place.

Death is not simply a change of state. There is much to be learned by the event of death itself. Indeed, a graceful death is a poignant event. I hope that she recognizes how life's other certainty (death) can be faced down with dignity. Not pride, not hubris, not escapism, but the dignity of one who says, "I did what I did. I love who I love. I am who I am. I am ready."

And, perhaps, there is a strong lesson that dignity and poise are conspicuous by their absence in life artificially supported. Prolonging life can be a function of fear. Fear is understandable: none of us really knows what lies beyond. But there is a difference between uncertainty and denial, and denial isn't helpful, especially as it puts pressure on a broader community (e.g., family) to share in the denial of an inevitability experienced by billions of people who have come before. This imposition is outright irresponsible: many lives are subserviated to propogate a falsehood clung to by a few.

This (perhaps tastelessly) puts life's first certainty (taxes) into perspective. A budget deficit in excess of 12% of GDP artificially prolongs a lifestyle. In actual fact, it means that one generation's lifestyle will be borne substantially by another. Such an act lacks not just dignity and poise, but honour. Many future generations will be subserviated to propogate a falsehood.

We each of us bear both of life's certainties: we have a fiduciary obligation to our government, and we must someday meet our maker. If we face these responsibly, neither need be burdensome. May we conduct ourselves honourably in both, not passing a spirit of denial to our children, but teaching them a sense of responsibility.