What happens to a society during a pandemic when Death is a taboo subject?
Being alive at this very intense and interesting time has made me explore many things. Theories, ideals, philosophies, science, conspiracies etc. Yet what I have come to through all of this madness of completely contradicting opinions and knowledge is the importance of Death.
Death, especially here in New Zealand from what I would call a mainstream point of view is a very taboo subject. It is something we are all trying to actively avoid, and people who start getting close to death, whether that be through illness, accident or old age; are kindly shunned to the side by our society as we tend to look the other way and put these people in a box on the top shelf so the rest of us can live our so called vital lives.
Death is seen as game over, as darkness, the place where life is over. The end.
This is not to say each individual experiences death like this, yet the collective ideal (or mainstream ideal) from a macro point of view, is that death is the end, and that anything or anyone that is in the process of dying is seen as something to avoid, not something to desire or even seek to understand. We basically lock our old and sick away, without hearing these people share, we miss the profound perception shifting insights that facing death can offer. In fact in many cases these people who may be having what we call ‘paranormal’ experiences are explained away as ‘brain activity’ or ‘the system shutting down’. Leading to the assumption that they are crazy and are ‘losing touch with reality’.
Of course dying people are losing touch of reality, they are leaving this reality. The issue here is we, collectively have been trained to look down at this behavior, to see it as something lower or less than what we experience, in our ‘Vital living reality’.
All in all, death is seen as finite and something we should all be trying to avoid. I think if we as a culture were honest, we could admit that for many years we have not looked after our vulnerable. In fact, we mostly just try to hide these people to keep the focus and attention on youth, vitality and high energy. The focus is on productivity, busy-ness, doing more, earning more, learning more, more, more more. There is little to no mainstream focus on dying or shifting the tone of life to a slow pace, turning inward, or to seek a profound personal understanding of what the world might mean, what your spiritual beliefs are and how you understand the great (and only transition) Death. Death is your sacred birth right and could be given positive, loving and curious attention. Death, as most all indigenous, spiritual, philosophical cultures have known, can be trained and done with much loving, conscious attention. We really owe it to ourselves to ask - why does our current culture/society and mainstream systems (media, education, medicine etc) want to keep death in the dark? Who benefits from this?
Now let’s take a moment to consider what’s happening globally, and yes in New Zealand. The fear of dying is currently at the forefront of our collective attention, whether anyone realizes it is or not. When we look at fear, it manifests in many different ways and can lead to anger, rage, micro policing, jealousy, frustration, mis-understandings, not listening, being passive aggressive, feeling anxious or depressed and the list could go on. I would go as far to say that any level of fear ultimately always comes back to the fear of death.
If death were understood as a beautiful profound transition out of this reality, how different would our world be? How different would our priorities be? How different would our relationships be?
How different would a pandemic be?
Let me be clear, I am not saying we should all be looking for death, or taking our own lives, or trying to make each other sick. What I am saying is that fear of dying, takes us away from living.
Using fear of death to control people, is not protecting people.
The irony of our pandemic times is the constant Fear based policing from our leaders and officials. (aside from the toxic micro-policing between the people)
The foundation for justifying these extreme actions such as lockdown have come from the ‘loving’ idea to protect our most vulnerable. This would be great if our leaders and systems actually took care of our vulnerable normally.
I don't mean to sound negative or dark; yet I can not take the leadership seriously. If our leaders, if our society actually gave a shit about our most vulnerable we would live in a very different way.
NOW, this doesn't mean that there are not hundreds, even thousands of heart centered, incredible people who dedicate their lives to looking after the vulnerable and doing everything in their personal power to see positive change in our systems. Yet how do these people get treated? How do they get paid? Do they get paid? And who benefits from this?
The reality is our world and our health systems are upside down, people get neglected, they get shunned, they die in non-loving ways and in many ways die when they didn't need to. These might sound like outrageous claims, but hey, prove me wrong. I am not saying this is the case for everyone, yet it is too common. This goes for how our systems are structured to support; certain socio-economic groups, the mental health sector, domestic violence victims, eldery people, sexual abuse victims, chronic pain sufferers, all those people who fall through the mainstream cracks, and the list could go on. Anything that does not fit into a certain box is kept quiet. The vulnerable are systematically neglected and they are still being neglected now.
Life is hard right now because of the unknown. Death is the greatest unknown. Take the time to reflect for yourself on the question,
Who benefits from the fear of death?
This is something I am most passionate about, I believe self reflection is a way of living really to cultivate greater self awareness, which I believe enhances every area in our personal lives and our individual influence on the collective as we are truly all connected.
Without self reflection (whether you call it that or not) a person is left like a floating reactive sponge, programmed with a set of beliefs/ideals/opinions that have mostly come from external sources but feel like internal 'truths'. Without any internal filtering through the body to understand what is true for each individual they end up absorbing these beliefs/ideals/opinions as their own and then in turn reacting to anything that does not align with these 'truths'.
This can be initially broken into a dualism of reacting vs responding. Reacting is seeing, hearing or reading something, and having a physical/mental/emotional experience, NOT taking time to neutralise the experience before 'throwing' something, whether that be verbal, written or physical at the other person, group of people, animal, object, situation.
Responding is seeing, hearing or reading something and having a physical/mental/emotional experience, RECOGNISING there is a lot of energy in the body and taking a moment to PAUSE, to notice and maybe ask 'where is this coming from?'. When there is a lot of thought-form or stories coming up which are trying to prove what is right and/or wrong, this is a sure sign to work with the physical body. Again PAUSE, drop into breath awareness, notice physical tension and use this awareness (or tools) to find a neutral place within the self. Then come back to said situation and respond with what feels true from the heart and mind together, sharing your view or action with said person, group of people, animal, object, situation etc.
Side note: A neutral place is always one founded on love and deeper connection for our human condition.
One of the most tricky and sneaky aspects of self reflection - which can really blind-side us - is guilt and shame.
The way through guilt and shame (in a simplified manner) is to understand that - it is ok to be wrong and it's ok to be right. It is also ok to disagree with someone and it's ok to agree with them, it's ok that you do not understand and want to ask more questions and it's ok when you do understand. This may sound logical, yet when in a reactive state of being (which we have been trained to do through our current frameworks in life, especially through the media and our entertainment) it is VERY challenging to stay in a critical space of self reflection.
The physical/mental/emotional experiences that happen when we are faced with a situation of intensity (no matter how big or small) will do anythingto prove you are right - it will even feel as if you are right and further thoughts will feed this aggressively. This is a natural and beautiful process for survival, yet when not in a survival situation this very same process can cut you off from truly hearing/seeing/respecting/learning/understanding. It can even compromise your ability to access your compassion and empathy.
Now, I am going to use a controversial example to illustrate how guilt and shame play a huge role in distorting our ability to stay open around information and healthy discussion from both sides of an 'argument'. Self reflection is the tool that allows us to regain our personal power and filter information to make grounded decisions in what feels true for each individual (which is unlikely to be exactly the same for everyone.. ever).
Currently, I see an extreme polarity between so called PRO-Vax 'people' and ANTI-Vax 'people' with little consideration for individual difference - aka -pack mentality. Essentially PRO-Vax and ANTI-Vax people have the same idealistic end goal - health and vitality equally for everyone. Unfortunately, the potential for unity is experienced as a painful divide, where you must fight for your side by often slandering the other. I believe this happens because of a serious lack of self reflection from the majority, which commonly starts an external disagreement, often with the introduction of many red herrings.
Red herring : a kind of fallacy that is an irrelevant topic introduced in an argument to divert the attention of listeners or readers from the original issue. This fallacy is often used to induce the other towards false conclusions.
Where guilt and shame comes in here is: many of us (myself included) have been vaccinated, or have vaccinated our children. Now herein lies a potential guilt/shame issue - it could prove difficult for someone to choose to do serious research into vaccines if there was a chance they would find out they were not what they believe them to be. Firstly, that would mean having to admit they were wrong; and secondly, finding out they could potentially put their children, or themselves at risk. This is no easy feat, it would take great self reflection (including self love and forgiveness for themselves and others). Most people who have done extra research are those who have been negatively affected in some way and decided to ask bigger questions, but it is hard to do this, it takes great courage and again self reflection.
I personally don't identify myself with either side, I identify with wanting to ask more questions and be pro-choice (which is still an opinion for sure - commonly grouped in with the 'anti-vax' side). I have been asking questions on this topic for about 8 or so years and I had no idea what kind of a 'battle' I was walking into... What happened when I began sharing my feelings/opinions/questions around vaccinations was an experience of a lot of reaction from others. Initially, I too reacted back, as I was quite shocked at the divide and aggression that came at me.
What I realised through this process was that I have always been like this, always asking bigger questions and trying to understand life through my own experience and filter.
Because vaccination reactions were so aggressive, I started to notice something: Society tells us we are free, we are unique individuals who have a right to question and have our own opinions... yet what I have experienced makes me assure you this is only true when you follow the said 'community narrative' otherwise you will be outcast in the strangest of ways. These ways are subtle, so it's not so easy for others to see (gaslighting).
I am a person who will always question, who struggles to buy into anything until those questions are answered, so I have had to learn another way to find the answers.
Enter Self Reflection.
This process gave me my personal power back, it allows to me to share my voice and not be terrified of others reactions, it allows me to hear and support others, I believe it allows me to experience internal freedom.
Because through true discipline, (and self reflection takes a lot of discipline) comes abundant Freedom!