Society should change its attitudes about fear, death

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 10:31 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Most people only die once. With the help of modern medical science, some have been resuscitated and felt that they had a second chance.

There have probably always been people around who like to frighten others about the death experience. When I was a child, there were certain adults who always warned us that if we were disobedient to our parents or didn’t mind our manners, we could be struck down by lightning.

Consequently, at an early age, my brother and I began to learn as much as we could about survival. If we were ever lost in the jungle or stranded on top of a mountain, we understood that the search for water, food and shelter was imperative.

With the current fear mongering among some politicians and gun advocates who would have us believe that we are under constant threat from Islamic terrorists and inner-city gangs, I’ve been surprised and disappointed that we have not had public discussions on the subject and there have not been philosophers or religious or ethical thinkers speaking out publicly on the matter.

I keep waiting for someone to point out that some of us are unwilling to accept more violence as the only solution to violence. There are those of us who truly believe that good will ultimately triumph over evil and that, when confronted with violence, people will act according to that principle.

This irrational fear of being attacked at any given moment by some crazed maniac needs to be addressed by professionals. In other words, we need to talk about it publicly. These childish attempts to scare people to death are silly and since under freedom of speech nobody can put a stop to it, the least we can do is discuss violence and the possibility of death in open forums where skilled people can guide the conversation.

I have always felt that our attitudes toward death are unhealthy. For the most part, it is a subject we want to avoid. But it is a reality that we all are going to face in some way or another, and it seems to me that, at the proper age, we need to have a rudimentary understanding about the process.

Many people who have been in dangerous situations have taken the opportunity to reflect on their mortality. I have spoken to many people who are remarkably clear on what they are and are not willing to die for. I think this is knowledge people should have of themselves. If you are not the kind of person who is willing to shoot somebody to prevent them from stealing your television, then you need to plan your line of defense in case they decide to shoot you to get it. Some people trust their ability in such a case to ameliorate the situation through reasoning and common sense.

With as many murderers as we have in the U.S., I think it’s silly for people to believe our law enforcement is incapable of dealing with the convicts at Guantanamo. If people really believe that, I would think they would be interested in the business of training new law officers. I think it’s also silly to believe these people are going to be released on the streets of America. If any are to be held in prisons without a trial, I am certain that laws will be passed to conform to the Constitution, as well as to the situation so that the system of justice can prevail.

Nothing can be gained by continuing to carry on these stupid fear-mongering discussions. This reminds me of the truth in the old adage my mother always used in cases like this one: She would simply rise from her chair and point out that when one has lost his head and therefore his ability to think, he has already lost everything of value.

And I cannot imagine why anyone wants Americans to live in fear of an enemy attack when there is nothing more the average citizen can do than to remain alert. Surely, people who wish to rabble-rouse could find dozens of things about which to make trouble.

One thing I wish somebody of influence would make trouble about is these school authorities who cannot find ways to keep kids in school. Some countries, of course, would fine and jail the parents because the people in charge would realize that high levels of illiteracy are detrimental to the system of government.

In lieu of that, shall we just build more jails?


You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at


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