Nikki Frittmann has Spina Bifida and lives in Auckland with her husband and two cats. Every second month she shares her musings with DPSN.
Now that I have your attention…death can be a very depressing subject. But in the English language, there are many sayings involving death. When we laugh really hard, we say we have “died laughing”. When a performer live on stage feels a bad “vibe” from their audience, they may say they “died on stage” (although I’m sure this has never happened to any of the performers I know!)
Most people I know think of death as the end of everything, but many religions consider death to be only the beginning of another stage of life.
At 52, I am probably more than halfway on the journey to my own death, unless some clever scientist invents a way to live forever, or at least for more than 104 years. From my perspective now, that would be nice. I am enjoying life, so I don’t mind the thought of hanging around for at least an extra decade or two. Or three, perhaps.
Language itself is constantly dying and renewing itself. The other day I was talking to a friend, when she suddenly cut into the conversation to ask me what a particular word meant that I had just used. I explained the meaning my friend was looking for, but the conversation left me curious. I didn’t think I was using very difficult language, and my friend and I both have English as a first language, so that didn’t explain it.
But early the next morning (at the time when all good ideas come to me), it suddenly occurred to me that while I hadn’t been using any foreign words, I had in fact used a word that is no longer very common: “alas”. It means “unfortunately”. My friend, who is quite a lot younger than me, had never heard that word before. Whereas I, being several years older than her, have been around long enough to remember a time when that word was used frequently.
Ideas too, have a “life” and a “death”. Just last night, the news reported that Parliament had made a formal apology to members of the gay community who still had criminal convictions from before the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Act in 1986. The Government also extended to them the opportunity to have those convictions wiped, as if they never happened. I remember the passing of the new law and some of the attitudes and opinions expressed publicly at the time, many of them very negative about the law change.
Watching this news item, I realised this apology was the sign that many of the negative ideas and feelings people had towards homosexuality at that time have “died” and that in 2017, the majority of people feel differently.
Just before this law was passed though, in the 1970’s, someone had an idea which affected many like me who were born at that time with Spina Bifida. According to just one doctor who was practising at the time, babies who would possibly never walk because of birth defects of the spine were simply left to live or die without medical help. As a result, quite a few didn’t live for long.
This idea hung around in the medical profession for quite a few years, until it “died” when someone else thankfully realised that the lives of these babies had just as much value as any other life and the way doctors dealt with this situation largely changed throughout the world.
It made me think about my own ideas and opinions. When we look hard at what we believe about certain things, it can be good for us, in that it causes a re-think around some of the views we have held for a long time that no longer help us, or that don’t keep up with modern society.
Maybe if we take some of these ways of thinking out and look at them honestly in the cold light of day, there might be some more that need to “die”. But in doing so, other ideas are born, and I think that’s a good thing.
What do you think?