Death is an Affront
Today was an interesting day, characterized by a number of rewarding yet demanding conversations with passionate and intelligent people wrestling with some of the deepest and most painful questions of life. Among these questions, was the question of death—how we are to understand it, certainly, but, more importantly, how we are to live with and despite it, especially when faced with the loss of someone close to us. Words often seem like meagre tools indeed when faced with the monstrosity of death, but as I sit in a quiet house ushering another day out the door, reflecting upon what it held, and snooping around in some old books, these words about death from Peter Berger hit home:
A popular cliché, elevated into alleged wisdom by various schools of philosophy, proposes that suffering and death should be accepted because they are “natural.” This proposition must be emphatically rejected. On the contrary, it is “nature”—in the sense of the biological order of things—that is unacceptable. Death in particular is a brutal denial of the very essence of being human. Indeed, one could turn the proposition around and say that death denies the essential “nature” of man, which intends being and consciousness. Death is an affront, and to accept it is to participate in the affront. It is precisely the “naturalness” of death that must be refused.