Monday, August 22, 2011

Death, Suicide and the Person

I don't know what made me think about these subjects today, other than some postings on 9/11 on Facebook, and thinking about liberty! What makes one's physical life, a matter of value or commitment? And what makes for a life that is worth living? I come to my conclusions after considering those that have committed suicide. What were their reasons? And what makes a life not worth living?

The first case was the Attack on America. The question was asked on FB, "Where were you and what were you doing on 9/11?". My thoughts turned to that day, that was just like any other, and the answer left me suffering the effects of the attack itself. That particular day, I was just an average person that was going about my morning routine of putting on my make-up, when I heard on the radio that there was a plane that had flown into one of the towers. Upon hearing of the accident, I started to cry, as this was how I had experienced my life, psychologically, at that point.

At the time, the announcer didn't know if it was a commercial flight and assumed it was only a private plane! But as the events started unfolding it was obvious that those that had flown the planes, as well as those that were n the burning towers, weren't valuing their lives.

What were some of the similarities and differences in these two categories of people. One was the agressor, against the "symbol of Western culture", "capitalism", while the other was just going about their daily tasks of furthering their own lives, as well as benefitting their society. One was motivated by a religious zeal that would make them fear "God's anger" and want "God's reward" for a "spirtualized kingdom". These terrorizors had separated reality from the "real world". Theirs was a spiritualized hope disconnnected from real people apart from their own religious tribe. These people were motivated by similar reasons as all people, as all humans are motivated by incentives and disincentives, as we are self-seeking creatures.

One would not intially see the simliarities in these two groups, as their cultures are so different. But, those in the burning inferno were seeking a way out of their fear of being burned alive or suffocating to death. This is a rational fear, that brought about an irrational action because of the possible pain that might have been suffered either physically or psychologically. These were suffering a real and present danger in the real physical world. Were those that jumped to their death less courageous than those that flew the plane into the Trade Towers, because they sought relief from a painful death? On the surface, the terrorists were the courageous ones.

Another group that suffers a real and present danger that impacts them long afterwards are our Armed Forces, who are experiencing suicide rates higher than at any other time. Many think that this is due to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Their "realities" in the present have been affected by their experiences. They are reactive, anxious and fearful of what they had experienced while on the battlefield! Some do not want to get help, while others continue to struggle against such "imagined realities' and overcome them. But at what point does one loose hope to overcome them?

Life is about choices. And fears breed choices that might not look rational, but are to those who suffer under such beliefs/thinking, whether religious spiritualized thinking, or past experiential thinking. Both impact what and how one views the present and interprets the future.

Was it right for those in the burning towers to jump to their death, or did they take their life in their own hands. Who is to make that judgment when they themselves are the only ones that know what they really faced? Were they to have courage in the midst of being burned alive, rather than a quick and timely death by jumping? This thinking based on real world experience.

But, real world experience is also the case for the ex-soldier, while his "reality" is not. Who is to advise him that his "stress" is only in his mind, when his mind might have been changed chemically, for all we know? Is he to be labelled fearful, because he has had these experiences that have affected him?

The religious agressor based their reality on a spiritualized "hope" that didn't care what might happen n the real world as this was not their value. They would be recompensed. This thinking cannot be challenged, as theirs is special knowledge that breeds confirmaton bias.

What makes for a rational decision? It depends on one's experience, beliefs, and fears. And each one of these categories of people had "rational reasons" for their behavior, at least according to their "Tradition", Experience, and/or Reason.

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