Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Do you Fear Death?

A sociology professor in an article in the Kyeongyang magazine about fear of death reminds us it is not of one color. Commonly we think of sadness, separation, pain, and fear. In the article, she wants to concentrate on the keyword  'fear'.

The philosopher Spinoza said there is no reason to talk about death since it is a fact of life. All life dies. We don't know when it will arrive and what is to follow. We have the known and unknown at the same time and left with a paradox. What about its fear?

In modern society, death is a taboo subject. However, if this was the case one would be able to quantify it with examination but this is not easily done. The professor believes this requires more study and analysis. In the article, she will be more concerned with the reasons for the fear connected with the times.

In traditional society, we have had wars, hunger, plagues, short life spans, common but taken in stride. Life and death were not under human control. It was seen as either nature's or God's providence. They knew the meaning of existence and the reason many were able to accept death.

The reason for fear and the lack of fear has appeared in the modern age. But today rather than nature's providence or God's will, the human will is center stage. Humanity has been able to conquer most of the many risks that we face but has met its limitations.

Since death is nothing why the fear? Nietzsche and the thinking of Epicurus bring to the fore the 'nothingness' of death. More than human maturity, reason or religion it's the belief in the emptiness of death. No reason for fear for there is nothing after death. There is nothing to think about with death and consequently nothing to fear.

But did fear of death disappear?  No, it has been changed into the fear of dying. The process of dying with cancer or senility, the isolation, loneliness, loss, helplessness these thoughts bring fear. In Korea, often as a blessing, we hear the numbers 99/88/234. May you live to 99, 88 in Korean has the meaning of lively, 2 or 3 days of sickness, and 4 is also the word for death.

This kind of thinking separates the dying from the 'beyond'.The connection between life and death disappears and we have the concern only for the dying process. This is what we have to solve and with our knowledge we can. Death is forgotten along with fear.

The talk about death has lost much of it luster. We don't like talking about the certainty of death. We have transferred the talk of the certainty of death to the dying process. The mutual understanding about the beyond we have lost and is it not the reason we talk about the freedom to choose death?  Is it not necessary to bring back to the discussion the 'beyond' and make sure that it is not extinguished from our thoughts and actions?