Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Arrogance of Suicide

Yes, you read that correctly. I do hope your understanding coincides with mine.

Suicide is an arrogant – not to mention an utterly selfish – act. Point blank. I have no good words to offer in its defense. Although I may not judge people who commit suicide, I condemn the act per se as undignified and utterly devoid of love. Disclaimer: You have to separate the persona from his actions, otherwise you'll overlook the good deeds he accomplished during his lifetime. This is not an easy mindset to adopt, but as they say “Blame the sin, not the sinner.”

Robin Williams' apparent killing of himself has propelled me to revisit certain tenets of “existential philosophy” and discuss the ethical dimensions of suicide. I want to quote the greatest existentialist philosophers of all time such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Camus and share to you their respective opinions on the matter (just so you know, philosophy is merely an attempt to explore the elusive truth), but I'm afraid doing so might make me lose sight of my purpose. Also, this is not a hardline philosophy class where we have to witness the teacher spout one nosebleed-inducing jargon after another. That's not how my writing works.

And the reason why I'm writing this? I hope to spread the word to everybody that suicide will never ever solve your or this world's problems. So why bother?

Wait. Maybe I'm not harsh enough.

Let me restructure my argument: The world will never stop with just one death. The world does not stop for you, grieve as you might. Instead of adding up to the problems, be part of the solution instead. And no offense to Robin Williams' soul, may he rest in peace, but what he did only hurt his loved ones and people from all walks of life who look up to him as an artist and as someone with a revolutionary contribution to the entertainment industry.

What he did was arrogant, selfish and inhumane. He did not think of his children, his wife and the millions of fans hoping to see another one of his life-changing movies. I wonder what pushed him to the edge of reason enough to make him take his life away without sparing any thought for the people he'd be leaving behind. His daughter was bullied online for something she had no control over. I'm not blatantly blaming Mr. Williams. Even if I don't point the obvious to everyone affected (deeply or remotely) by his death, it does not change the fact that his loved ones are now in pain. And people are not helping either. Because many would rather condemn the sinner and not just his sin. Like it's a “buy one take one” promo or something.

No one knows for sure if there's such a thing as reincarnation. No one knows for sure if consciousness can still be retained after our physical vessel expires. No one knows for sure what's beyond the land of the living. In other words, life can't be recycled. But Mr. Williams' gave himself a definite ending knowing full well there's no turning back.

Face it. Many people fear death. But does that mean committing suicide is a display of pure courage? I beg to disagree.

No, I do not support any act driven by selfish and violent motivations. If Mr. Williams' suicide had stopped the Gaza conflict from turning into one huge pool of blood, I'd have looked at it in a different – more understanding – light. Because that would mean he was heroic and altruistic and less into himself. Now that he's dead, nothing much has changed. People just took to social media and his name trended here and there. His daughter was bashed. Media grappled to book an interview with the family, which only fueled more bashing from the narrow-minded crowd. The Ebola virus hasn't disappeared into a puff of smoke and casualties are rising by the minute. Russia couldn't care less about one popular American actor who died because it's bent on threatening Ukraine and the safety of its people by funding pro-Russian rebels. Gaza continues to be a cemetery.

So why did Mr. Williams bother to kill himself?

Simple. I may not know the actual circumstances behind his self-inflicted death, but here's what I know for sure: Robin Williams let life get the better of him. He lost to life and gave up. Who's to say if suicide is wrong – completely, irrevocably and beyond reasonable doubt? I am not God, so He alone has the right to judge Mr. Williams. All I'm saying is, if I were in his shoes and something or someone depressed me so much, suicide would be the last thing on my mind. I'd rather lock myself up in a solitary cottage on a faraway Greek island and do whatever I want to do in there without a care in the world, until I feel better. Or I'd talk to a complete stranger about my problems, hoping against hope he's not an axe murderer. Perhaps this complete stranger can lead me out of the tunnel into the sunlight. I mean, I just can't believe Mr. Williams of all people would run out of ways to console himself. Doesn't that sound so preposterous?

The act of suicide is beyond cowardly. At least to me it is. Is this world too dark and depressing? It can be but not always. In all his years living as a human being, hasn't he come to realize that life's always been a never ending cycle of ups and downs? Wasn't he in Dead Poets Society – a movie dealing with existential angst of epic proportions? Oh, Alanis Morissette. It really is ironic. Yeah, I really do think.

To be honest, I feel just a tad bit insulted and mocked by Robin Williams. Don't you? His suicide makes me feel like our struggles have been all for naught. If it's that easy to take your life and leave a lifetime of struggles behind, then I shouldn't have bothered to go to school for 16 years or pass my exams or make wonderful memories with family and friends or work my butt off. He couldn't be bothered even when we painstakingly did and still do. I'm sure many of those dead Palestinians (God rest their souls) would have wanted to live Robin Williams' life had they the opportunity. But Mr. Williams thought it better to join them in the after life. The difference is, while he chose to go there of his own accord, the latter were taken there by force. If that's not arrogance, then I don't know what is.

How many of us here have the stamina to go on living even when our hopes and dreams shatter? How many of us here can still face the crowd with heads held high after experiencing an epic failure? Would you dare make a comeback and prove your detractors wrong or would you settle for non-existence and leave the world with its misconceptions of you? Are you brave enough to see your life through to the end or would you rather run away from it?

These are questions. And you alone have the answers. It's your life; live as you see fit. Just remember one thing: THE WORLD WILL NOT STOP FOR YOU.