Death of Dreams
– by David Matthews 2
Is there a fate worse than death?
Religious believers would say that there is something worse than death. A great place in the hereafter where our souls could go where they would be in eternal torment. Traditional myth suggests that our souls are bound to the land until some sort of wrong has been righted. Sounds crazy, but hey, it worked for Jennifer Love Hewett, right?
But I’m not talking about an existence AFTER life has ended. I’m talking about something so horrid in life that you WISH you were dead.
Certainly there are forms of physical torment and torture that can break the body. The evil that men (and women) do can be atrocious and without mercy. But even in the most atrocious of situations, mankind has found a way to survive and endure. They have found a way to look beyond the momentary pains and believe that there would be something more waiting for them afterwards.
Is there a fate worse than death? Is there a situation that would be so horrific that one would yearn for death?
Yes there is.
A lot of talk is placed on one’s soul, but what about their spirit? What about that hope and sense of optimism and the belief that things will get better? What happens when that is gone?
An abuse victim can always cling to some sliver of hope that things will get better. They can always point to some measure of kindness given to them to believe that things will improve at some point. They just have to put up with the pain and the torment and the torture just a little while longer.
Survivors of the Holocaust, one of the worst atrocities in human history, continued to hang in despite dehumanizing conditions and starvation, because they believed that this too shall pass.
People survive inhospitable conditions because they believe that there will be something better just over the horizon. They just have to wait a little longer. Just get through the day. One more day. One more week. One more month.
But what happens when even that is taken away from them?
What happens when they don’t believe that this is just a momentary downturn? What happens when they feel that things will not get better for them… at least not in time? What happens when they feel trapped and there’s no way out of what they’re going through?
Millions of Americans are out of work through no fault of their own. Millions of Americans have lost their homes, their healthcare, their pensions, and their savings. Millions more are trapped in credit snafus and mortgages that they can no longer maintain.
They go to church and they hear the minister or the preacher complain about how “GAWD has abandoned us” because we didn’t vote for the “right candidate” last November, or because the wrong political party is in control of Congress, or because the “right judges” aren’t on the bench, or because boobies and blood are on the TV screens and in the theatres. They open up the newspaper and they read how bank executives and big corporations are paying out millions in “retention incentives” and then they get a letter from their bank about how their terms have been changed for the worse. They turn on the TV and they watch blithering idiots ramble on and on about “socialism” and how America is being killed because we didn’t vote for the “right candidate” last November AND because the “wrong political party” is in control of Congress. They turn on the radio and they hear formulated corporate garbage and even more blithering idiots rambling on even LOUDER and even more IDIOTIC about the same subject. They go online and they see websites full of fictional birth certificates claiming that the highest elected politician in the country is somehow a foreigner and accusing him of staging an illegal coup. They get emails from their friends and family members full of nothing but empty chain mail messages and hate-filled propaganda reflecting the very messages of the blithering idiots on radio and TV.
They turn to their politicians… the ones they voted in on the promise of bringing in hope, change, accountability, transparency, and to fix what is broken. They find that the politicians are not able to fix what is broken. They find that the politicians that promised transparency are sustaining the very secrets of their predecessors. They find that the politicians that promised accountability are now telling them to not “dwell on the past” and to simply move on. They find that the politicians that promised change are mired in the status quo. And they discover that the politicians that promised hope are now saying that they should accept that things are going to stay bad for a long, long time and that there is nothing that can be done to change it.
Jobs are still being eliminated, or else moved to other countries. The jobs that remain are being devalued and under-appreciated. Everyone wants to push education, but then the people that do the hiring raise the bar even higher so the people WITH the education can’t qualify for what few jobs are left.
And looming over the horizon are a vast plethora of deadlines, both real and imagined, of when everything will come to an end. Institutions that will collapse from the sheer weight of debt amassed; whole governments that will fail because of their reckless behaviors. And of course the doomsayers are saying that the world as we know it will either burn out, burn up, be shattered, or otherwise obliterated - with all life onboard - in just a few years. Even if the Mayans got it wrong, we’re still overdue for some asteroid collision or super-volcano eruption or polar magnetic reversal anyway. So hang in there and if you’re lucky you might see that neighbor you despise be obliterated in a wall of fire… two seconds before you join him.
And then comes the slap-in-the-face; the insult of insults… On top of all that has happened we are besieged by messages from so-called “motivational speakers” who get paid quite well to simply sit on their fat and rich asses and tell us that we should just “hang in there” and to “just think positive”. These “experts” don’t want to help, of course, they just want us to “hang in there”… oh, and for us to buy their books. And if you DO tell them that you HAVE been thinking positive for a long time and things have only gotten worse, then they have the utter audacity to tell you that you just aren’t doing it “right”. After all, if you’re thinking positively, then you don’t have any reason to complain… right?
“The beatings will continue until morale improves,” as the old joke goes. Only that morale doesn’t improve, and there’s no sign that it ever will.
Worse yet, you’re not allowed to COMPLAIN about the beatings. If you do then your words are dismissed for being “sour grapes” and that you should just “hang in there” because things will get better if you do…
Only… things don’t get better.
Let’s get brutally honest here… THERE IS a fate far worse than death. There is a fate that makes death seem like a blessing. It’s not the death of the body or the condemnation of the soul, but the death of the spirit. When all that the person has is devalued and dehumanized, when they made to feel unworthy and unappreciated, when they are ignored and betrayed by the very people and institutions that they are supposed to trust, when all the pleas for help are scorned and when all the calls for justice go unanswered, and there appears to be no end in sight to any of it, that it will just get worse as time moves on, and their plight can’t even be recognized, how can any sane human being expect that person to simply keep going like nothing has ever happened?
This is beyond despair. This is beyond fear. There is nothing left but mourning.
When a person cannot even dream of a better place, when they cannot hope that things will get better, when they can no longer put any faith into any kind of institution or association, then that person has nothing left to look forward to but death. At that point all of the encouragement in the world is utterly worthless to that person. They can no longer see, think, or even dream of a better future, never mind believe in one. All of the cute flowers and pictures that one could send in an often-recycled email message only serve to further insult that person.
If it seems depressing to you, then pat yourself on the back for finally realizing the obvious. Platitudes cannot fix a spirit that is dead. Promises are irrelevant at this point. The only thing that can work is action. Actual, concrete action. No platitudes, promises, or tricks of the mind. If there is ever a time where institutions and organizations and people NEED to actually do what they are supposed to, it is NOW.
The sad part is we’ve seen this kind of death before. If ever you ask yourselves how people in lands run by tyrants allow such abuses to go on, then the answer is before you. Their willingness to change rests in the belief that change is POSSIBLE. But when you have a people that go through one thug after another, each one even worse than the ones before, then they just don’t have any reason to think it will change. They deal with it because experience has shown they have no choice in the matter.
The message here is simple… when dreams are dead, words of hope are worthless. That is the time when you need to stop talking and start doing.