I was sitting in front of the television when CNN did their breaking news story about the death of Robin Williams. It was sad to learn of his death, but I was not surprised. Upset, yes, but not surprised. He was a major talent in both comedy and dramatic acting. He was also a manic personality, one I often found difficult to watch when he was being interviewed, but that was my hang-up, not his. I posted nothing on Facebook about his death because I knew so many others would. Mr. Williams will be missed for all his philanthropy and charity, as much as for his exceptional talents.
I posted nothing because I didn’t want to engage beyond a show of respect, which I had planned to do in my weekly TK post. I also knew that sooner or later the psychotics from the Westboro Baptist Church (and/or their ilk) would chirp in and piss off most of the civilized world. Frankly, I can laugh off nuts like the Westboro Baptist Church. It’s the lesser degrees of religious fanaticisms that upset me more. Inevitably, they did. Some people of a lesser degree of messianic faith spewed nonsense about Williams’ suicide being the act of a coward and/or how he’d cheated God of his/her powers over life and death, and/or how his taking his life was a selfish act.
Morons, I figure. Forgive them (the assholes), they know not what they do (or say).
This is not an attack on believers of any particular dogma. I think all religions are essentially silly, make no mistake, but I accept the fact that most (hopefully) believers (of whatever faiths) aren’t so rigid in their particular dogma as to ignore the science of depression and/or to suggest that suicide is a violation of their religious law and therefore subject to condemnation … or that homosexuality is a sin … or that disbelievers should be killed wherever you find them … or that non-believers (or those who believe in the “wrong” God) should be stoned to death.
Suicide statistics in the United States are overwhelming. As many as 108 people a day take their own lives in the so-called greatest country in the world. Many are veterans of wars we unilaterally chose to engage in in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bulk of suicides are people who suffered from depression so deep, it wasn’t worth enduring the pain it took for them to continue living.
None of us (NONE OF US) can ever know the pain and suffering someone goes through before deciding to take their own life. To assume we can know, and/or to make asinine statements about them being cowards (Shepard Smith, FOX) is nothing short of (or beyond) stupid (i.e., STUPID). Equally as offensive and STUPID, is to condemn someone for taking their own life because of a belief in a God (or Gods). That particular condemnation is a form of ignorance that continues to poison the world we live in. You’re more than welcome to have your faith in a deity (if you must), but condemning those who take their life because it is against a “God’s or several Gods’” law(s) is no less ignorant (or STUPID) than what Mr. Smith from Fox said.
And it’s offensive to rational thinking beings everywhere.
It’s probably offensive to rocks.
Wouldn’t the people of faith rather believe in a merciful, loving God, one that doesn’t pass judgment? — Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matthew 7)
Can you say or believe in something stupid one day and eventually figure out it was a mistake—your mistake? Sure, of course. I originally supported the war in Iraq and the President who started it—a big mistake. In fact, they were two big mistakes … two HUGE mistakes, and both, as it turned out, downright stupid (i.e., STUPID). Fortunately, I was able to swallow my pride and learn from those mistakes. Hopefully, those mistakes chased me back to where I belong (firmly on the left of the left).
Hopefully, those who condemn Robin Williams today (for something they can know nothing about) will realize they were wrong tomorrow and perhaps rethink their hurtful statements and/or thoughts.
In the interim, however, Mr. Smith can shove his phony, network induced apology for being a moron up his tiny ass … behind a bread truck … parked sideways.
I’ve known a few people who took their own lives now. None of them were cowards and none of them were looking to usurp any one (or more) deity’s(ies’) powers over life and death (although if there was a deity and he/she was so fucking all powerful, you’d think that deity would put a stop to it, right?) Or is that too much logic to comprehend at one time?
A very dear friend had dinner with me and Ann Marie just a few nights before he took his own life a few years ago. He was a beautiful person. One of the most generous people I’ve yet to meet. My wife gets emotional every time she thinks of him and she thinks of him often. There’s never a holiday season we both don’t talk about him and what he meant to us. I knew that he was suffering from depression, and I very much feared for him the night he left our home. In fact, that night I mentioned to my wife how concerned I was for our friend.
Brian was neither a coward nor selfish. And he wasn’t cheating some God/deity/tooth fairy. He was in pain and he needed it to end.
Do I wish he were still here? Of course, but I’d never assume to understand the kind of pain that made him choose to leave. Brian’s Mom often reads these posts of mine. I’m going to provide a link to something I wrote about her son/my friend a week or so after learning of his passing. This links to another TK post with a video taken at a dopey weightlifting meet that Brian had come along with me to spot (for me) and to film. His voice is on that video--his encouragement. I mention this only because Brian’s Mom once told me how difficult it remains to hear his voice.
Most of the Facebook posts about Robin Williams were supportive and/or shows of respect. Unfortunately, every once in a while I saw some of the most offensive bullshit spewed by so-called Christians; those offended for their magic man or woman in the sky. I read them and was instantly upset. It reminded me why I so abhor religion in general, because of the dangerous ignorance it enhances and spreads like a cancer. My wife is religious; a Catholic cherry picker because she can’t align herself to a church with so much inherent hypocrisy. She’s also intelligent enough to realize the taking of one’s own life doesn’t warrant a church condemnation. She understands how NONE of us can possibly know or understand what it takes to decide to leave life behind. She ignores the book of fairytales most believers call their Bible because she doesn’t believe it to be the actual word of her God (but rather what it is, the writings of a couple dozen or so guys who do a pretty good job of contradicting one another). My wife’s faith, bless her, is hers to do with as she pleases (rather than join the line of blind faith lemmings marching toward what they’ve accepted without question will be paradise).
It’s easy to get confused about this paradise place. One major religion (Qur’an 9:5) advises its followers to “Kill the disbelievers wherever you find them” (and if you call right now, you’ll get a bonus of 72 virgins), while the other major religion advises us to love thy neighbor unless he/she is homosexual orrrrrrrrrrrrrr, (Deuteronomy 17): And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded … then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.
Like I said, this stuff is probably offensive to rocks.
I accept my wife’s faith because I know that hers is harmless to those around her; her faith is hers and hers alone. She doesn’t attempt to force it on anyone else, nor does she condemn others for having different forms of faith. She even accepts me (not very easy for any number of reasons) and my complete lack of faith in a deity. She’s a far better person than I’ll ever be. I’m not as gentle or kind. I am opposed to religions and beliefs in omnipotent beings in general, because although I can usually look the other way when someone tells me how “unworthy we all are”, when I see some of the bullshit mentioned about suicide on Facebook some believers have posted, arguments for intelligent design quickly become arguments for a fucking tooth fairy, except in the case of intelligent design, the tooth fairy is one mean and cruel motherfucker who enjoys spreading decay until all the teeth are gone.
At least two of the major religions, when taken literally by extremists (i.e., the Evangelical Born Again crowd or Islamic Fundamentalists) are tantamount to nation states, each one seeking its own power at the expense of the other (and/or whoever stands in their way). They are far more ruthless and rigid than they are compassionate and tolerant. I wish they’d both go away and stay away.
The world would be a far better place if they did.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Williams.
There's a much less vitriolic post about this very subject over at a friend's blog. Darren Rome Leo knows of what he speaks first hand ... and he's brilliant at conveying his message. Please go visit his site (just click on this link).
A couple of notes on suicide below ...
Military Suicides (from Wiki): A 2009 U.S. Army report indicates military veterans have double the suicide rate of non-veterans, and more active-duty soldiers are dying from suicide than in combat in the Iraq War (2003-2011) and War in Afghanistan (2001–present). Colonel Carl Castro, director of military operational medical research for the Army noted "there needs to be a cultural shift in the military to get people to focus more on mental health and fitness." In 2012, the US Army reported 185 suicides among active-duty troops, exceeding the number of combat deaths in that year (176). This figure has significantly increased since 2001, when the number of suicides was 52.