2008 was a pretty rough year. This is the final part of a five-part post on why it's been so bad for me personally. Please share your reasons, advice, condolences, or whatever in the comments. Also, read parts one, two, three and four.
This is another inevitability of life, obviously, but this year it has seemed especially prominent. There were the deaths of Tim Russert and George Carlin, two men I adored for their respective talents; the passing of Bernie Mac, who seemed like great family man; and Obama's grandmother, who died the day before he was elected. ONE DAY. Awful.
I'm sure I'm forgetting some others that really hit close to home, but I was most recently affected and disturbed by the death of Jdimytai Damour, the Wal-Mart worker who was trampled on Black Friday. What a perfect symbol for our rampant consumer greed. We want what we want and we don't care what or who it hurts. Perhaps this is just a rumor, but I heard that people knew someone had been horribly injured, and they kept shopping. They were ANGRY about the holdup, about the need to clear the scene after he died. Honestly? An HDTV is not worth it. (It'll be standard in a few months, anyway.)
Perhaps most shocking, I know three people in one family (not mine) who are dying. Two are near the end of their lives and their ailments are relatively natural, but one woman simply collapsed last week and fell into an irreversible coma. She was young, in her forties, and the sister of a friend's stepmom. They just had Thanksgiving at this woman's house and everything was perfectly fine. And then she collapsed, never to regain consciousness. They just took her off life support and she has less than a week to live. She's already in a vegetative state. They don't even know what's wrong, really. Their guess is its some kind of viral infection in her brain.
So, with this last sobering bullet point, it's not my intent to be heavy-handed or to trivialize these deaths by listing them under me not having a job as explanation for why this year has been so awful. I guess my point is that life is so precious and uncertain, and people too often show a blatant disregard for others. We all know that certain things are inevitable: death, heartache, hardship, whatever, but we don't need to make personal relations another annoyance of life by treating one another like enemies. Why do we have to look at others with such immediate disdain? I'm including myself in this. I know I dislike many Republicans and Libertarians. I admit it, I'm a partial-hypocrite. But I like to think I always give people a fair chance. I don't judge people solely based on their political labels; I let them elucidate their beliefs before forming an opinion (or I try to). I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I at least make an effort to give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to be nice to strangers, and help others, and believe in the goodness of people (even though many of their actions suggest otherwise). I don't assume people on welfare are going to use that money for drugs or whatever. I don't assume the worst. It's one thing to be cautious and realistic, but it's quite another to be a misanthropic jerk.
I think the problem is that too many individuals regard life as a movie starring them. They're the main character, the most important one. Everyone else is simply a supporting actor or a tool to get their story to progress. They're looked at as fixtures, features, not real people with real lives. And, of course, the environment is just a backdrop. Not an ecosystem, but a setting. And things only happen when you're present. I guess I'm talking about a real version of The Truman Show. But life isn't like that at all. Each person has their own little life, a family, a story. The world does not revolve around you. (It revolves around the sun, but that's a terrible joke.) I know it's cheesy, and I'm devastated that it was made into a song for High School Musical, but we are all in this together. Maybe in 2009, we can start acting like it.
(Disclaimer: I'm doubtful. It's just a pipe dream from a weak, compassionate idealist. My problem is that I want the whole world to be humane with me, when I think the key to life is to surround yourself with the ones who actively share that desire.)