It started with a small piece I shared on social media on why we lose control (click here to view). The gist of the piece was that communication, or lack thereof, is the reason behind everyone’s demise. The rock star goes down the drain the same way as the homeless person, both of them unable to communicate what they feel, failing to be regarded in a manner that satisfies them. Suffering deeply, they lash out, hitting the bottle, the drugs, attacking and blaming everyone in a way that drags them down a spiral of self-destruction.
The rock star and the homeless person are two bright examples of how this happens in a flash, exemplifying what is happening — and has been happening for ages — all over the world, and they do so in a gradual, far less bombastic manner.
In everyday reality, the demise approaches slowly. The accountant next door, for example, and the clerk, and the road digger, the waitress and the rivet inspector, the army veteran and the nurse — male and female — and the once-aspiring-statesman-cum-compromised-politician-cum-scumbag-businessman, they all had at some point in time an idea of doing something with their lives, something grand and worthwhile. But somewhere along the line their aspirations were adulterated. They found themselves dragged away from their goal as time went by, going down the slow current of disillusionment, jadedness, despair and loss.
Then they woke up in the lives they led, wondering how on earth they got there, so far away from what they had envisioned to become.
All the above, I had merely insinuated it by comparing the rock star to the homeless person in my gnomic post, equating the two personas and their plight, looking for a common root.
My article and its message, for all its universal appeal, did not resonate with some readers in the way I expected it to. While it gave rise to comments on how we need to be aware of other people’s plights, it also invited an astounding amount of rage.
One reader, for example, starting bashing rich people, who, as he put it, piss away their good fortunes and deserve to die, especially if they’re not appreciative of what they have.
Another reader got mad at the fact I had used a picture of Jim Morrison, claiming that the famous rock star had never voiced an opinion remotely close to the article’s theme. Clearly, this Morrison fanatic was not familiar with the idea of metaphor. Nor was he versed in the demons that plagued the singer-poet.
I was taken aback by the level of contempt in the responses and the anger behind them. They reminded me of previous discussions I had had with people, during which I had made the cases of other sad and tragic figures, such as Kurt Cobain, Marlon Brando, even the Indian Nations: people who, as I saw it, had lost their long battles with reality, who deserved a long hard look on why things happened to them as they did, and who, surprisingly, (at the time, but less so as time passed) invited dismissive reactions from people, such as, ‘fucking losers, they got what they deserved.’
How could someone be so callous? I thought. I mean, there was that same contempt again. Angry, raging disdain. Why?
I now have an answer for it. Sadness, it seems to me, is scary. It symbolizes defeat and frightens the shit out of most people. It epitomizes everything that doesn’t work, everything that never sees the light of day. People shun the sad fools for not commanding the necessary grit to stand up and fight, or die trying. The memory of all who try and fail is erased, their presence replaced with something fitter and more apt, something able to make it through.
I understand. I’m all for fighting and never giving up. I believe in falling defiantly, should one be totally overwhelmed, and doing everything in one’s power to rise again, against all odds. I appreciate how sadness is not a welcome state of mind, by and large, a condition that should not be indulged or glorified.
But there’s a limit to how harshly one rejects failure. Coming down too hard on it, too fast, too furiously, is counterproductive. It sends too harsh a message to those eager to give it a shot, whatever it may be, setting callous precedents. You want to be tough, not an asshole.
There has to be a limit in the way we judge failure, tough as we choose to be. Too tough and we risk undoing everything, killing the spirit of adventure, allowing only the weeds to survive, the unsavory elements among us. The only outcome to that approach is more callousness, the same kind that created failure in the first place. Be they rich and famous, or poor and destitute, or somewhere in between, people deserve a moment of empathy before being judged.
Should that moment pass, of course, and the sad ones continue to wallow in the mire of their defeat, unwilling to grab the helping hand and lift themselves out of their slumps, then that’s a different story. These people have wilfully chosen to perish, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
As a wise woman said, life comprises of the living, not the demised. The fallen are there to simply remind the rest to keep pushing.
Sad but true.