Death and Resurrection
I spent most of yesterday introducing this new series. I discussed how I think my pets have rational thought based upon the outcomes they hope to create and how animals of lower species than mankind are generally not considered capable of such. I used my own pets as examples but there are many others, many that exist in the natural world without influence of domestication ny man of these animals. Life is harsh at times and there is a food chain that requires some animals to eat others. However, there is also evidence of animals acting intuitively out of love and concern for other animals and sometimes outside of their own species.
Rene Descartes is famous for having said “I think, there I am.” Philosophy asks “How do you think?” “What do you think you are?” “How does what you think relate to what you are?” “How does what you are affect what you do?” These are also the questions that spiritualities and religions seek to answer. They are questions we answer every day in our living. Our last series focused on finding the meaning in our everyday, discovering the sacred in our living. Some days I confess I was not sure I had anything sacred. What I failed to realize was that my own existence was sacred.
One of the most famous twentieth century philosophers was Jean-Paul Sartre. Captured by the Nazis, Sartre apparently presented the stereotypical professor image because he was only held a short time. The Germans felt he posed no threat since he appeared unfit for military service. Sartre was released within a year of his capture and became very active in the French Resistance to the German Nazi regime. He would later become an opponent of both the Soviet Union and the United States.
Sartre was not a spiritual man and favored the philosophical school of existentialism. He believed man existed to create himself and disavowed the religious concept of original sin or deities. In a body of work known as “Being and Nothingness”, written while a German prisoner of war, Sartre believed one created one’s being or essence by “throwing [one’s self] into the world, suffering there, struggling there” and through this, man would continually redefine him/herself. Free will and choice formed the foundation of Sartre’s philosophy. Since man continued to make decisions until his/her death, Sartre saw life as a continual evolution.
The problem with Sartre’s theory is that we do not always have the ability to create ourselves. Much of the world’s population lives in domination, refugees exiled and without the ability to do little more than simply exist, to barely live. Sartre might have seen the domination as part of the necessary struggle which strengthens but I believe that we can grow without such drama. What I find lacking in Sartre, and certainly I am no expert to be passing judgment, is the lack of explanation for how we grow and evolve through positive life experiences. Surely those have merit, don’t they?
As you go through your living today, I would ask that you think about death and resurrection. While yesterday Christians celebrated the resurrection of the man called Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, Jewish brethren are still celebrating the Feast of Passover, that time when many in their faith had children spared which guaranteed their continued existence. The act of the plague passing over the houses of Jewish sons, the plague being hatred and greed, meant those young boys would grow up to carry on their faith. Today, religious extremists are killing young girls and taking them for slaves, trying to guarantee another existence or lack thereof. Last week many college students were harmed and half perished because of their faith. They were not luck enough to be passed over but were targeted and shot.
The souls of those young people so horrifically and cowardly killed will most likely not come back to life. The spirit of their being can, I believe. We can allow their lives to not have been in vain if we continue that which they were striving to accomplish. The thinking they were so eager to embrace must be encouraged and continue. Their suffering and struggles should not be for nothing. We must move forward for them, resurrecting and creating the world they believed was possible.
The act of bullying is also an act of cowardice. It kills the spirit of the one who is bullied and sadly, such actions result in the target committing suicide. We must carry on their spirit and take up the banner to prevent this from continuing. Everyone is different and thus, everyone has the potential to become a target. We need to embrace our diversity and see the strength in it. The philosophy of a successful life requires that we think before we act and realize that, in spite of our differences, we share much in common.
The cycle of living includes dying. That is inevitable. Life also rejuvenates. The end of each harvest and growing season leads to a period of dormancy but that is not the eventual end of everything. The period of being dormant is just a step into the new growth, a necessary juncture, a time to gain strength and knowledge. We cannot resurrect those who had died but we can resurrect what they stood for, what they believed. In our struggle to move on past the negative and grief-filled moments of life, we can see the love and remember the laughter. Joy once experienced is a seed for the joy of tomorrow. We can best predict the future by creating it. The choice is ours. Wallow in the misery of death or find the life in today and live it with joy, embracing all that creation offers.