Raging Against the World

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The Hierarchy of Death

Well Twitter’s annoying me again.  But I dare not speak out on there.  There’s a strong repressive mentality of what the masses deem to be ‘right’ and you must not deviate from the party line.  I don’t recall signing up to this ‘agreement’.

What’s annoyed me now is that the world’s oldest tweeter has died at the age of 104.  OK, that’s not the thing that’s annoyed me.  I think it’s admirable that a woman of that age should embrace modern technology.

What gets to me is the outrageous fuss that’s been made about her death.  She was 104.  Twitterers have been saying relentlessly that it’s “sad”.  But Death is inevitably just around the corner at that age.  And she’s had way more life than a majority of the world will ever have.  What is sad about that?

I find it more sad when a boy drops dead at 16.  When a 38yr-old is murdered walking her dog.  The last female rhino in a zoo being killed by poachers, that’s sad.  Someone dying of cancer just before retirement or someone dropping dead of a heart attack immediately upon taking retirement, that’s really sad.  But a woman living a far longer lifespan than 99% of the public?  Is that actually that upsetting?

I noticed this ‘hierarchy of death’ thing back in 2004 when the Beslan school siege happened in Russia.  More than 1100 people were taken hostage at the school and in the ensuing disaster 334 people were killed.  You wouldn’t know any adults were killed of course because the only thing mentioned was the 186 children died.  It was like the 148 adults didn’t matter, no-one cared.  The adults had lives too, they had families and careers and hopes and ambitions, but no-one gave a toss, because children had died.

Similarly back in 1997 when Princess Diana died.  Or should I say: when Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed and Henri Paul died.   That’s right, three people died, not one.  Whenever someone mentions that event, remember that two other people also lost their lives.  Remember the bodyguard whose face was crushed and needed several operations to return his features to normal.

Diana’s death was not more important than their deaths.  The children were not more important than the adults.  This week in Hampshire an entire family were wiped out in a weird “we’re all going together” suicide/murder thing.  And of course people say “oh the poor kiddies dying, that’s awful”.  But who cares about the father?  Who cares about the mother?  No-one.

That a woman died at 104 is not remotely sad.  She had an extended period on this earth.  Every day people are dying between the ages of 10yrs old and 90.  These lives are just as important and to fixate upon the very young and the very old, ignoring the people in the middle is a disgrace to society.

Death is quite rightly called “the great leveller” because we’re all equal at that point.  No-one is more important than another.

[Stewart Lee has wise words about over-grieving here]

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