Terrorists from Pakistan attacked institutions, innocent people, in Mumbai last November; a group of about sixty armed Muslims (please read comments, no disrespect here to the entire family of Muslims), ready to die to make a statement, responsible for at least eighty deaths, more than 250 injured.
Not that I want to dwell on suicide and death, it is not the winter upper you're looking for. But we need to build a little on that last post, How to Save a Life.
I don't know if you noticed, but that one bled values. Not that that's bad, having values, in fact, the National Association of Social Workers has a code of ethics that uses the word repeatedly, values, and the American Psychological Association's code implies them, standards, beneficience, fidelity and responsibility. The American Psychiatric Association piggy backs on the American Medical Association, and you know doctors tend to be death-avoidant.
We're talking about saving lives, here, on this blog, in a society in which suicide is endemic, becoming more and more prevalent. And that salve, hope, although presidential rhetoric aspires to make it so, (thanks Star Trek, Next Generation), is sorely lacking. It's missing from among the poor, and the rich, as well.
Lost millions, to many something new, is lost identity. Lost jobs, lost identity. At least a piece of identity, self, is lost. Hard to stay hopeful, so confused, rudderless. For many hard-working people, the tagline might be, I am my money. If I'm doing well, I'm well. If I'm not, I'm not.
Tear money away, for the first time, from the identity of an income-earning adult, and you have an uncharted psyche. It's like being sixteen again. Who am I?
And that's fine, in fact we can all appreciate a make-over, it could do us all a world of good to redefine ourselves, reassess who we are and what we should be. Can be. But if other plates aren't twirling well, if the marriage has gone south, and the kids are using drugs, if your mother's been diagnosed with something you can't pronounce, and your dog just bit the neighbor, then not having money can be the stress that tips you over. Bring out the Puffs* about now, for sure.
I made a bad joke yesterday, forgive me, please, but I meant it, sort of, really wondered. Upon hearing that Japan is officially in a recession, I asked FD, "Does this mean that hari kari will go up in that country?"
Bad taste, he said with his eyes. And he's right. But I'm really worried about this trend, in general, the value on life disappearing in society. Life is less meaningful for so many when times are tough, and we are in an international recession. And our safety, our physical security is not even an assumption anymore, hasn't been, some say, since September 11, 2001, the day that terrorists declared war on the West, The Enemy, and smashed flying machines into buildings in New York City and Washington D.C.
The West is the enemy for terrorist suicidists (my new word of the year, people who encourage others or believe in the benefit of suicide, the right to take one's life, although maybe euthanasia applies). Those who see Western values as evil focus on our lack of modesty and promiscuity, as if these are only Western phenomena. We don't redistribute wealth as perhaps a communist society might. Or a king. A king? Or perhaps a benevolent dictator. (Someone stop this rant)
I don't know about you, but the other day a young man came to my door asking for money for Save the Children, an international cause. I get solicited quite regularly and give what I can. From the look of the pages of names on his clipboard, am apparently not alone.
Until recently, it is true, The West represented affluence, good health, the good life. And America, especially, is a country that defines itself with wonderful things, but these things include individual rights, freedoms, and a system of government that has functioned relatively well for over two centuries. The system shows signs of wear, but it is running better than ever.
The greatest country in the world, we used to say when I was a child, and if you listened to President Obama's speech on Wednesday night, still believe.
We will all cut back. We'll get by.
Someone said to me this week, "I can stay in denial for just so long, and then. . . reality sets in."
And I had to respond, "You can grieve what you've lost, that's fine. But it's what you have that matters."
If we define ourselves by our affluence, what are we? And if a nation defines itself this way, as some, apparently believe is true of America, and affluence disappears, then happiness does, as well.
But any mental health professional will tell you that mental health depends upon much more than money. We can't obsess on this. And America's future, in particular should be bright, has to be, because this country is not about affluence, it is about opportunity.
And we have enviable, unbelievably enviable rights.
These rights make us happy, too. Suicide isn't included as one of them, but freedoms of speech and religion, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we take these for granted. They're in the "have" list.
The terrorist approach to Western ideals seems to be: Destroy people who express themselves (the entertainment industry, especially); destroy yourself if necessary to destroy others; nuke America, if at all possible, and by all means, while you're at it, destroy that Zionist state, too. I think the idea is that if some people have to be poor, others have to suffer. A good society suffers together.
Not so different from holding a friend's hand, as we discussed in the How to Save a Life post, or is it? Oh yes, it's much different.
Those of you who saw Slum Dog Millionaire saw hundreds of poor people in the streets of India, barefoot, hungry, wet from the rain, homeless. And yet India is not a hotbed of terrorism, indeed the country suffered a hit in Mumbai. Osama bin Laudin has not got a grip on India or its people, probably because there is meaning in life in that country. Meaning and a search for harmony that is not about having money or being angry if you don't have it. India is about survival and peace, although we surely see the underbelly in the movie. But there's not a readiness, a willingness, a value for blowing oneself up, murdering others to make a point.
Or have I missed something?
It is hard to understand how a culture could glorify suicide, how any child's life, anyone's life, could be distilled down to something that a society is willing to sacrifice to make a political statement. Last week the human sacrifices that delivered suicide bombs in Iraq were all women, not women who were depressed, who couldn't take it anymore so they killed themselves, but women who wanted to be remembered for their deeds, for the glorious deed of killing themselves. They wanted the glory of dying for their values, and valued dying.
All I can think is, desperate or brain-washed or both. Mentally ill? I haven't given the status exam. My guess is that the night before, before a person commits this atrocity, murdering innocent people, murdering oneself, there is a going away party.
A different suicide altogether. How did that song go?
Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend. Somewhere in the bitterness. If I had stayed up with you all night. . .Maybe I'd know. . How to save a life.Something like that. Every life is invaluable; our worth, incalculable. Where there is life there is hope. Even now, when denial is hard to hold onto.
*Puffs is a Proctor and Gamble product. As soon as they pay me (this is America) I'll put a link to the P & G website right there!