Shaming in the land of the free

A Four-year-old child dies after swing set collapses

The little boy’s father hit the nail on the head when he said, “A 4-year-old’s not heavy. Swings are made not to collapse, so it feels like we’re missing part of the story.” Sure! There is always an essential part missing from the understanding of how the astral/quantum field impacts our physical lives.

There used to be a time when the people believed that God gave life and that God took life and that only He had the right to do so. That said, several times a day across the globe, the media break the news that yet another person has died or been killed unexpectedly as the result of some form of human negligence. They raise the alarm about the possibility of wrongful death.

These days, more than ever, unless someone dies in his or her bed from the natural and observable causes of very old age, it is quite likely that, in the disbelief that this person ‘had’ to die on that particular day someone, perhaps aided by an investigative current affairs program will be demanding justice. Not from God, but from fellow humans, be they parents, staff, employers or a political party.

Seen or unforeseen, anyone’s passing is the final, hidden milestone of that person’s physical destiny, and it is intended as the catalyst for the upgrading of our path.

Still, the common subtext is that men, women and children become so distracted by their affairs that, they often cause not only their own ‘accidental’ death but also the ‘wrongful’ death of fellow human beings.

‘You have left us while doing your chosen dream. Now, you forever soar above the clouds. You dared to dream. You dared to dive,’ wrote the stricken daughter of a woman we shall call V who died during a skydiving accident. According to her daughter’s testimony, skydiving over the sea and experiencing the minute of adrenalin-fuelled freefall had been on her mother’s bucket list for many years.

So, to celebrate V’s 50th birthday, several family members and friends organised a road trip to a beach well-known for its 5000-meter skydive drop. The $279 skydive gift voucher which included a personalised certificate of achievement had been V’s surprise birthday present.

Four tourists jumped in tandem with an experienced instructor. One parachute got tangled and failed to open. V’s body, as well as that of the instructor, crashed on the beachfront esplanade. V’s husband is suing the skydiving group for negligence.

‘My wife should never have died from my birthday present,’ said V’s husband. ‘There should be rules and regulations to prevent such tragedies. Even if they are rare, it still amounts to occasional deadly carelessness.’

Internalised from that angle, Death, then, is no longer deployed by divine power or an irrevocable karmic decree released from the quantum universe. It is not orchestrated by a greater cosmic intelligence but by mere carelessness that creates ‘bad luck’, a tragedy. Disappointment, sadness and even grief and trauma are robbed of their authentic purpose as our personalised rites of passage.

Oddly, the modern mindset seems to be that most deaths could be postponed, if only all individuals took their responsibilities seriously; if a new or different law had been passed earlier; if all inhabitants of our suburbs and cities were placed under a meddling net maintained by a sort of Orwellian domestic control.

Equally dark are the assumptions of some that technology is either about to make death obsolete or that technology is about to make humans obsolete.

Mind-meandering tangentially, although, for now, the west is free of overt authoritarianism, there exists a pervasive, prying, small-town mentality, fortified by the media machinery and its distinct lack of empathy for the individuals it targets.

It is fed anonymously by people’s obsessive interest in the family, personal and professional lives of others. Seldom has the ‘voice’ of obscure and invisible citizens been so powerful – so destructively powerful.

That voice of mostly unbudgeable, ego-based opinions is allowed the right to humiliate, at times destroy, people and organisations with a shoot-first/ask question later approach – though not taking any notice of eventual answers.

When public shaming holds people and organisations responsible for bad behaviour, that is positive, of course. However, this little mind-meander is cutting a corner to glimpse the energetic flipside of cyber shaming, a social menace driven by men, women and children of all ages that shows no signs of abetting.

As things stand, our worst moments, often relatively minor errors of judgment, can be recorded and, depending on our relative popularity, sold to the media or directly uploaded to the blogosphere. Most confronting for those who find themselves exposed is seeing their ‘sin’ flashed on their screens –in the home, a place that should always remain one’s inner sanctum.

Whether the ‘noise’ is someone’s idea of a joke, a revenge act, or finger-pointing with intent to hurt loses importance. Once the damage is done, it cannot be undone with a deletion.

Parental skills deemed deficient by an outsider when a child has a public meltdown tantrum, one’s work ethics questioned, one’s appearance devalued, aspersions cast about an individual’s mental state or character or a little secret revealed – all are considered fair go.

On those who binge on such denunciations, all have the same electrifying effect as the pulsating notes of the hunting horn when dogs and hunters smell blood.

Under an authoritarian regime, a fascist or theocratic state, as in ancient times, the anonymous probes and denunciations would lead to arrests, to being paraded through the marketplace and, possibly, to behaviour-modification therapies.

In the Lands of the Free, when facts are ignored and replaced by righteous outrage and, at times, furore, a growing majority of us, men, women and children live in fear of being branded as ‘less than’ or ‘not up to it’, the fear of being cut loose and so on. The resulting threat of ostracism and its implications settle in our heart and grip our thoughts.

Some agitators, armchair politicians and self-appointed guardians of morality, short on genuine factual research seem focused on the importance of ‘getting it right’, of ‘setting the record straight’, of ‘telling it like it is’.

Others point the finger via social media and shrug dismissively. ‘I’ve spotlighted you and now get over it,’ is the best they can suggest. Be that as it may, the rest of us know that when moral fortitude is compromised, integrity, acceptance and empathy are absent from our own and our culture’s ethos.

Kneejerk measures adopted privately to answer a personal need or hurt or adopted publicly in response to an imagined fear and outrage seldom fix in the deepest sense of the word any complication. They have been too often known to make matters worse.

Yes, of course, well-articulated laws and regulations are necessary here, there and everywhere. They should be further refined and clarified as needed. Still, no method of human control is as effective as coherent, personal accountability.

For example, in a bid to assist the15 million Americans who provide unpaid care to a relative or a friend suffering from Alzheimer’s, should we encourage the notion that young blood may have anti-ageing properties that may assist dementia sufferers in the performance of daily tasks?

The short-term benefits might be obvious to some but how potential complications might spin-out in the fullness of time cannot be entirely clear to anyone – not just yet.

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