Thursday, September 29, 2005

Senseless Death

Last Tuesday, there was a reported case of an 18-year old freshie from FEU figuring in a horrible accident at Pureza, which is the street before Nagtahan here in Manila. The victim was dead on the spot, having been dragged and perhaps - considering the damage done to her - ran over by the 10-wheeler truck that killed her.

When one's job involves dealing with war, famine and all sorts of political chaos, one would think that there is a certain... distance to death. Because death is part and parcel of your job, and your duty to the Republic can call for your taking the life of someone to protect it, you think that there might be a certain level of... insulation to the psychological impact of the loss of a life.

But there isn't. At least so long as one claims to be human. Those who absorb the deeper aspects of the Sword's philosophy know that to draw the blade from its sheath is in itself a failure in the part of the swordsman; all life is sacred, even your enemy's, and if a situation demands that you unleash steel and draw blood, that you end a life, then it only means all avenues to a peaceful solution did not suffice. There must always be sadness at the ending of a life because life is about potential, and when a life ends before its time, it would seem as if a story had been cut in the middle without there being any resolution.

I remember being on the PUJ that evening it happened. Actually, I overheard about it already at the LPHQ; Erick Mante, our sysop, mentioned that his cousin figured in an accident. But it only dawned on me much later, on the jeep on the way to Nagtahan, when two manangs were talking about it.

What is really depressing in this incident is the senselessness of the death. Although it is necessarily the negation of physical life, death need not remove from the human his or her dignity, nor must it be entirely shorn of purpose. Perhaps one eloquent testimony to purpose in one's death is that of John Paul II; in the days leading to his coming to eternal rest and the grand wake and burial that followed, it seemed as if the world had found both a moment of peace and a reminder of the unity in us all, of the good within us. It was a loss that somehow filled you, paradoxical as the statement may be.

Yet even with 15 units in Jesuit theology, and 16 units in Atenean philosophy, incidents like this seem to challenge your ready-made answers to the "why" questions. Why did that girl have to die, and in such a violent manner? Perverse as it may sound, but a Mentat can more readily "understand" the why in a person who died as a result of war, even if that person suffered much first before expiring. C'est la guerre. But for a recently-turned 18 year old who just went to the corner 7-11 to buy something before meeting her boyfriend at school (who even texted her, as her cel showed, "ingat ka") to die, and die like so... it not only boggles the mind but profoundly disturbs the Soul.

Is not the world, even on a quantum mechanical level, a place of causality? Except for the philosophical "Uncaused Cause," is there not supposed to be a reason for everything?

Disturbing. And for a measure of comfort - and I dearly hope the family of that girl finds more than a simple measure, and that her soul rests in peace in God's embrace - I turn to Kant: beyond this small circle of reason, is the realm of faith.

That should suffice, I suppose. Even though your Soul still sits uneasily in the seat of your Being.

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