the revolution and the transitoriness of life

the revolution and the transitoriness of life

2 essays today.  No reason really.  These thoughts burst into my mind in the past hour or so.  So, I need to exorcise them away.  Thus, they are now in the public record.  Even government snoops can read these thoughts and ponder over them as well.

the revolution (a parable for our times)

The revolution is over.

It was not bloodless.

The blood and gore on the streets has been fire hosed into the gutters.

The corpses have been removed under cover of darkness to hurriedly bull dozed mass graves in the fields and gullies near the forests some distance from the capital.

The newly formed government, cynically called one of “national unity”, trumpets its
accession to power as a great day for the country and for “the people”, and promises the despairing citizens a new constitution and real reforms.

During the frenzy of violence and chaos, when anger and hatred were given free rein and the mobs descended into the pit of senseless, bestial brutality, much killing was done to others.  The victims were not always adherents of a rival political philosophy.  Blinded by passions, people wantonly and brutally killed members of other religious creeds.  Even women and children were not spared.  The cries and screams of death agonies were heard so often that one became numb to them after a while.  A terrible, inhuman thing.

Ironically, all the various creeds called for “brotherhood” and for love and respect for one’s
fellow man (and woman).  Sadly, in practice, many of these creeds’ followers only showed any love and respect to those others who were nearly exactly like themselves.  Being too “other”, being too different, was a death sentence for so many in these dark, terrible times. Would be peace makers were seen as weak and easy targets to be slain.

In the last several days and nights, it had seemed that the fighting and killing would only end, could only end, when there were no individuals left to fight.  The capital would have peace.  The peace of a mass grave and a depopulated, burnt out city.  The pride of the nation – a necropolis.  Hundreds of years after throwing off the yoke of the colonial masters, this is what we have achieved?!

If our children, or grandchildren, can – someday – overcome the passions and the hatreds of their fellow citizens, what might they think of their parents, and what was done in this revolution?

the transitoriness of life

“Bring out your dead.”

“Bring out your dead.”

This is what the drivers of the carts would call out to the urban dwellers in Europe in the late 1340s when the Black Death (likely bubonic plague) was ravaging the continent.  The emaciated dead were transported outside the cities to be dumped unceremoniously into mass graves.  (The name of the plague may be due to the fact that the skin of its victims was often turned a bluish black in various areas of the body.)

A trip to the columbarium and mausoleum.  (not fiction, not allegorical)

Lucy and I pay our respects to a deceased loved one at one of the Chapel of the Chimes in the San Francisco Bay Area from time to time.  Once in the building, we have to ascend stone steps until we get to the main level.  All the while we are passing wall niches, behind protective glass, with urns of cremated remains.  Upon the main level, we see the names and dates (birth and death) of those who have been interred in the walls, not being cremated.  We take the service elevator up one floor and walk under the glass roof to an area where there are both bodies in the walls and urns for those who were cremated.
Here in front of one niche, is where we place our flowers and silently pay our respects to our deceased loved one for a few moments.

One cannot help but to notice the dates of the people whose remains we pass by.  Some individuals lived to old age, while others died in youth or middle age.  As this building was erected in the mid 1930s, some of the interred have been dead for several decades now.  In some niches, there are multiple urns as they are family members.  In one such family niche, one sees a very small urn.  The remains of a beloved child who died in her first year of life in the late 1940s.

When one is confronted with the impermanence of our lives on earth, it can be a very sobering experience.  It can also be instructive.  When one reflects on this inescapable impermanence where no one among us is guaranteed tomorrow, one can learn to cherish each day.  One can truly be alive, as one realizes that the present moment is all we can ever have.  The best way to prepare for death is to live fully.  By this we mean, become the most loving person you can become.  What you will take to the next life is what you do here.  It is better to cultivate love and harmony – real spiritual beauty.  Let’s not cling to hate, anger, despair, envy, bitterness, etc.  Let’s not allow those negatives to burden us on our future journey.

Best wishes to all!!

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