Her old man died. She’d never forget that day. Coming into the house after canning peaches all day in the shed, and finding him laid out on the carpet, a halo of red surrounding his head. She’d known he had guns – had often felt safer and protected knowing they were within reach – but somehow, she had never considered their potential use for self-destruction. Now she wished that firearms had never been created.
Today the world is mourning the loss of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and 7 others who died in a helicopter crash yesterday. Personally, I am not a sports fan, so I didn’t feel much emotionally in connection to Kobe, although I empathize with the loss that his family, friends, fellow players, and fans feel, and always feel sorrow at the loss of children who barely got to live.
When celebrities die, I’ve often heard people complain about all the fuss they get. About how we act like they matter more than any other person who lives and dies. People complain about the adulation celebrities receive after their death, while “real” heroes like soldiers, firefighters, police officers, emergency workers, and others die without much recognition at all.
While I understand this sentiment, I think the reason that celebrity tragedies get so much attention isn’t because we truly think their lives are worth more than anyone else’s, but because so many people feel like they actually know them. If we are fans of their art or achievements, we feel a bond with them, even if we have never met.
I know I felt this way with Michael Jackson, Robin Williams, and Alan Rickman. I loved their work, their personalities, even their flaws to some extent. It felt like there was a relationship between us, even though there wasn’t. Thinking about their deaths still makes me sad because I miss them, just like I miss my father and sister who have passed on.
I believe this feeling can even occur with people who died before we were born. I feel like I know Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and John Lennon in intimately real ways, when obviously I didn’t (unless I lived previous lives, but that is another topic altogether lol).
Who are some celebrity deaths that you felt deeply?
After seeing the Mockingjay Part 1 movie in theatres, I finally decided to read the entire Hunger Games trilogy. I had read bits of it in the past, enough to know the main plot of each book, but I had never really sat down and read them all cover to cover. Last night I finished the last book in the series. And I must admit that after I turned the final page, I found myself deeply depressed. To me, the last book was very much a downer, even more so than the previous two books.
So, I sat in our library looking at our darkened Christmas tree and wondering why I felt so morose. I finally decided there were several reasons I found the conclusion of the series so disturbing. First, it felt like the last book was filled with the agony of multitudes dying, often for no good reason (as is the reality in war). In the first two books, most of the deaths were related to the tributes participating in the Hunger Games or were the slow, gradual kind of deaths caused by the perils of poverty. In Mockingjay, the deaths seemed constant throughout, not just a few people here and a few there. Understandably, the thought of mass death and the destruction of the world all around us causes immense despair, even if only on a subconscious level.
Another issue was the very real idea that no matter how many immoral and violent governments, presidents, dictators and groups we remove from power or destroy, there are always just as many waiting in the wings to dole out their own brand of pain and injustice. Even at the end of the book when things seem a bit more hopeful, we know that the world is not safe and secure. The world is never actually safe and secure, no matter how much we may choose to live in denial. Even among those brave enough to rebel against injustice and evil, you will find cruelty, deception and betrayal. Many of those people don’t even realize that they are no better than the enemy they seek to destroy. Vengeance and victory may give us a brief respite, but eventually the same old problems seem to find their way back.
Lastly, it is incredibly depressing how war leaves those who survive broken. Maybe not always physically (although there is plenty of that), but deep down on the inside, the trauma of warfare leaves many human beings irrevocably damaged. Survivors are left with wounds that cannot help but affect the next generation, sometimes starting unending cycles of mental illness and abuse. Often hatred and bias is passed down much the same way, even if it is done so with millions of seemingly insignificant words and attitudes. If we could truly see the damage done by war throughout all space and time, we would probably be shocked by how far the effects trickle down.
After thinking about all that, I guess it is no wonder I found myself discouraged. Perhaps the worst part of all though is that when it comes to fighting for freedom and justice, we are often damned if we do and damned if we don’t.