If there’s anything that annoys me, it’s the death of a well-respected person whom I don’t like.
All of a sudden, every news outlet and social media forum is inundated with the person’s likeness, and every social media site is filled with his or her praises. Friends and family post the person’s quotes, create memes filled with the deceased’s wit and wisdom, and carry on as though we had just lost a parent, patriarch, pope, and philosopher. Each of these is meant to inspire and propel the reader to a closer inspection of the person’s work, and a renewed devotion to live according to that person’s tenets.
So there I was this morning, scrolling through Facebook while I waited for my first cup of coffee to brew, and I found out that someone I really disliked had died… and that the majority of my friends and family had gone into effusive, sycophantic mourning.
And all I could think of was, “Finally. This should shut the sunovabitch up.”
I’m sorry. The old bastard once said something very hurtful…that people like me, who married people of his ethnicity, were continuing the genocide that certain demonic dictators had begun.
I don’t deny he did a lot of good… but he had a hatred in his heart that kept me from considering him a virtuous paragon.
I thought he was a bit of a prick.
But can I say so openly in a public forum?
Hell no! Even people who might have tolerated criticism of the deceased while he was still alive will now rip me to shreds if I speak ill of him, because, after all, one has to respect the dead.
Which leads me to ask something I’ve wondered since I was nine years old: WHY?
That was the first time in my life when a public figure I knew about was assassinated… and my parents, who’d despised the man while he was alive, suddenly acted as though Christ had been crucified again. Such a young person! So filled with promise! So much potential! Such a loving family!
“Huh?” I asked. “Isn’t this the same man that you accused last week of being a liar and a traitor?”
“Be quiet!” I seem to remember those words being accompanied by a slap, but memory may be betraying me. “Have you no respect for the dead?”
And at that moment, the answer came through, bright and clear. No. I do not respect the dead simply because they’re dead.
In fact, I have a lot more respect for the living, who are out there every day, coping with life’s many vicissitudes.
I’ll tell you something else, too. I don’t like to speak ill of the living, because they can still change. They’re still trying and struggling.
But the dead? Their time is up… and if they left sour notes in their composition, I’ll be danged if I join the choir that sings their songs… or their praises.
These may be dangerous words for an old person to mutter… or they may be the most divine challenge I’ve ever given myself and my contemporaries. Fix your life NOW. The time to earn respect is no longer plentiful.