The news about Robin Williams’ death was the first thing that hit me when I checked Facebook this morning. It wasn’t exactly a great way to start a day. It took me a while to click the link. I remember just staring at his photo. It was not an easy news to process. I practically grew up admiring the man. I’ve watched almost all of his films, give or take two or three that I think I’ve missed.
It didn’t take long for my Facebook wall to get flooded with links, photos, and videos about him. But as I was scrolling down my news feed, I’ve also noticed some posts that made me think about how we sometimes fail to grasp the fact that our humanity starts deep within. That we are our own person before we are part of a society that generally seems to put us in boxes, each with clear labels.
Some of the things that made ponder about life, choices, and sad goodbyes earlier are:
- Every life matters – A friend posted a link that shows a photo of a child surrounded by armed men. He said that he was saddened by the news about Mr Williams but then he found the article about children being beheaded by ISIS men. You can’t be on Facebook nowadays and miss the heartbreaking images and news about wars and death. Many children are dead and dying in wars they don’t understand. Some people might find it incomprehensible for people around the world to care deeply about the death of an actor and stay quiet about the atrocities of war happening across the world. But I think that what this display of shock and grief from millions of people suggests that we feel connected most to people who have somehow touched our lives. And Mr Williams, through his roles and innate talent, had at some point made us laugh, cry, think, and believe about things. Mourning for him doesn’t mean we don’t feel as much grief for the plight of men, women, and children dying everywhere. It’s a sad thing to lose someone who reminds us of our humanity through his craft during this dark, sad, and twisted time.
- Suicide is a choice – Some people who expressed their grief were also quick to remind everyone about suicide being essentially bad. There were also those who said that only weak people choose to die that way. There were some who hinted that a strong faith of the religious kind is the best source of strength for everyone. I used to be ambivalent about suicide although my Catholic education in high school taught me that there’s no salvation for anyone who does that. I think I was lucky to be educated in a public elementary school and in UP during my college years. I didn’t have to spend much time thinking about how suicide can be the end to the promise of eternal life. Lately, I’m beginning to think that suicide is just one of the many choices people should be free to make. And no matter how much we say we understand the pain of others, we truly don’t know enough to judge their choices.
- Nurture and share the gift – Sad goodbyes are for those that have truly touched our hearts. And most people who do that are those who have nurtured and shared their gifts to the world. Some of them have, in certain ways, been with us for so long that we feel the pain of final farewells. The way Mr Williams left may seem like a waste for some of us. But his was a life not wasted. Because he has lived a full life through his works.