‘If you walk a mile in another man’s shoes, you can experience the world as he does.’ There is a truth to this old quip of wisdom. It can be a piece of wisdom that rests in the soul and helps us to understand each other without constantly being in conflict with the entire world. This part has allowed large groups of people collect under certain ideals with a collective understanding. For example, in the United States, each state has its own ideals, while all look to the national ideals of patriotism and democracy. However, in each state, these national ideals hold different meanings and priorities. It is strength to be made of so many ideas, yet the nation needs to be aware of the dangers. A single spark could ignite the entire powder keg.
We cling to the ideas that we are able to understand another’s points of view, but our references for the experience return to the subjective points. As hard as one might try, it is impossible to actually taste or smell as another does. The sights and sensations are quite different for each of us. The basis of our conscious mind to grasp these stimuli and the experience that each will bring must have a reference. So, it is common to pull from one’s own experiences and thoughts, but one can use the gift of imagination to find the true sense. In other words, the validity of the objective experience weakens against the subjective.
It is this very notion that we are all unique creatures placed on this planet as part of the complex system known as Nature. Yet, with our individuality, we each try to connect with others in order to remain involved in the system. It is this conflict of community and individuality that has returned to the surface. In thoughtfulness of this conflict, one can draw from their lives to construct the evidence to support one side or the other.
This particular conflict has a way of opening the eyes and minds of those who are within and outside of it. Caught in the battleground, it is difficult just to see what is around a person. It is immediately the priority of this warrior to survive and find a way to resolve the struggle. Each moment is another chance for that resolution. This experience can either lead to the disillusion of the ideals held by the warrior or alter the perceptions about the other side. The conflict has a manner of giving the individual the necessary thoughts for a new path.
A quarrel of the community can be similar in the means of survival and resolution, but the group has the ideals around which the people assemble. As the war rumbles on into history, these groups are touched by losses and experiences given to them vicariously from members who survived. Yet, the community holds steady to their ideals until the bitter end. It is difficult to alter the entire group, but they can recover with deeper understanding. The collective becomes stronger by its parts surviving with knowledge.
Back to the quip, one can see that the wisdom is attempting to construct a solid bridge between the sides. It wants to force the self-examination while pushing the view to remain objective. Within this context, the conflict can begin to create the third option that continues to elude our pursuit. There remains no easy path to the answer, so the search must continue and the struggle must never stop.
With this thought, society has a way of holding true to the ideals that brought them together. From the earliest times in our world’s history, men have found various ideals to promote in their community as well as with each individual. Take the ideal of immortality, various myths and legends incite us with the idea that a being can be free of the natural concerns of time. Gilgamesh sought the secrets of immortality in order to give his kingdom stability with him as its ruler. The story follows his trials and successes, but the pursuit of this prize cost him the greatest friend that he would ever have. His failure to achieve this goal did not fail to help his community. They learned a valuable lesson that such quests will lead to destruction for the individual, but the community gained the knowledge. However, Gilgamesh did achieve his prize as his name has lived on.
Essentially, there is a balance that can be found in the two sides of our world thinking with individuality and community, but both sides will have to pay the price. In this, there is hope that the future will provide us with that third option and remove the price tag.
Death and taxes touch every life in this country. We are all equal when we are visited by both in our time here on this planet. If you try to avoid either, the suffering can truly begin. Tax evasion gives us a chance to find the real strength of the IRS, and it takes a hard soul to find a way to escape from the long arm of the law. If you are caught, you are paying for a long time.
As for avoiding death, I am not sure how one could do that beyond staying on life support forever or chilling the brain to be thawed out done the road. It is crazy to think that Death is a personified entity coming to collect you at the end of your life. Many times, the tales have been created to tell the story of a person who finds a way to avoid the cold touch of Death. Those narratives usually lead the protagonist to regret and a haunted existence. In the end, they seek Death so the suffering can end.
I don’t know that any of us truly understands the concept of immortality, but we do try. Many authors have taken up the mantle of immortality and placed it on a main character in order to give them a long lifetime as a playground for their stories. I eagerly await the next fantasy novel that will expand the creations that will have immortality and how it is dealt with. To me, the mortal mind is a troubling spot that few authors have taken into account. To move from the ranks of the mortal to the immortal causes a shift in the view of time and the world around them. These existential thoughts must strain the mortal mind as it is quite finite in conditioning. I imagine that if we were told from birth that we were immortal, it would lead to a stronger concept of the infinite.
Death can be an interesting topic to ramble on for hours. The afterlife will eventually enter into the discussion, but that is only if you have a belief in such. Our civilization has many mythologies to choose from. We are could look to the ancient Greeks. A step back even further can lead us to the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. The religion ceremonies surround death and the afterlife, but there has been little evidence to reveal the true answers. The one common fact is that death will come. It is how we handle that final moment which will mark our place in the world. It is the final chance to leave a legacy for those left behind.
I personally have not faced many deaths in my family to this point to form much of an opinion on death. I sat down to write this blog posting with the topic in mind and started to really pull some of my thoughts together. First, I know that it will come for me someday and I am prepared to accept it. By that time, I will have left my mark on those around me now. I do not say that as a boast that I am some great person, but those around me know that at some point I have left some influence or mark on their lives. It is also true that they have left it on me.
As for what is beyond the veil of death, I will not claim to know or try to convince anyone to believe my ideas. I would like to think that the afterlife is a place of comfort and peace. For anyone to consider it to be anything more or less leaves me with a bad taste. If one has the ego to claim that their beliefs are the only true ones and anyone that does not agree will suffer without the comforts of the afterlife has placed a judgment on another. It is no one’s place to pass judgment on another. The moment that you put yourself in that position, you are filled with hubris and may the powers strike you down.
Of course, that is a bit of a judgment on my part, but I am prepared to accept the strike if only to get the point across. Tolerance and cognizance are the only factors in this world that should matter. If you live in the world where you are without these qualities, then you are working against the great truth that many religious figures have spoken. I strongly suggest that you take a moment to examine that.