Posts Tagged ‘excommunication’

There Are Worse Things than Dying

January 4, 2011

I read an article in the NY Times today about Tolstoy’s excommunication by the Russian Orthodox Church. In his time, getting kicked out of your church was a big deal. Today, probably not so much.

What is excommunication but an expression of power. In times past, it was the church’s way to control a person through his/her friends, relatives and even children. Religions can’t stop us from thinking, so they take the easy alternative of depriving us of those we love. The loss of connection and the fear of dying alone are strong motivations for giving into those in power. Not surprising, it is even more effective than the threat of death. Why do convicts have such a fear of solitary? Better to be locked in a room with murders and thieves than to be alone with yourself.

There are worse things than dying.

We are a gregarious species. As much as some people complain about their families, they stay with them. Why? Probably because having a family, even a dysfunctional or abusive one, is better than not having one. The fear of growing old alone drives us to put up with abusive parents, demanding siblings, and disrespectful children.

There are worse things than dying.

I’m not suggesting that we all gather together and commit mass suicide. Even if I were, 99.9999% of the population would reject the suggestion. In addition to being gregarious, we humans are distinctly pro life. We want to live. Despite the many plagues haunting our lives, we will more often than not remember the pleasures. A dozen negatives are immediately forgotten when one good positive brightens our day.

It’s kind of like playing golf. Most times I’m a duffer, simply churning up the sod, sending helpless worms on an unintended vacation to a distant part of the fairway while my ball dribbles to a stop a few yards away. Then I happen to luck out and slug one a country mile, and it feels like I really can play this darned game. It doesn’t matter how many strokes over par it took to get me through nine holes. When I get back to the club house, it’s that one hit my friends hear about.

Yes. There are worse things than dying, but dying means an end to all the possibilities of good times, loving people, roaring successes, and hole-in-ones. And even failures are often simply successes in drab clothing. It’s all in how you see it.

Death is inevitable, but life is only what you make it.

I’m still investigating the possibilities.

Clifford M. Scovell
Prison Earth – the series

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