“Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you” – Marcus Aurelius
Rumours, lies, and propaganda aren’t the normal kind of bad news. People understand that floods and fires happen, that bosses sometimes have personal problems. When you are confronted with rumours, lies, or propaganda, it is bad news aimed straight at your heart, and it’s not random at all. Another human being is aiming at that arrow against another human being.
Public figures are only as effective as their reputations are strong. Rumours, lies, and propaganda eat away at reputations. Rumours persist because non-factual assertions are effective. Lies exist as abject subversion of truth. Propaganda is even tougher to combat. It’s an organised campaign of misinformation, fear, censorship, half-truths, and lies.
Defending against these malignancies takes patience, skill, and strategy.
People want to know the unknown. People will always gossip about public figures, people in power; and no one is above the proverbial across-the-fence conversation, even if they fail to realise they’re taking part in gossip until after the conversation has ended – it’s inevitable.
Part of the reason misinformation is able to take such a stronghold is that our brains are hard-wired to retain only the most important information about other people. We simply don’t have enough space in our heads to remember every little detail, good or bad, about everyone we encounter.
The most damaging rumours are about non-factual things. Non-factual things—not lies. There is a distinction. Non-factual things are impossible to substantiate: There’s never any proof of another person’s innermost thoughts, feelings, or motivations. This is because most of the people think that they are going to live forever, because the craving for wealth, name, fame, power and position is ingrained them. That’s because we’ve been taught to hold on to things. In our material world, life has become a possession too; and we cannot let go of it.
We like to feel invincible or immortal for that matter. But not thinking about death won’t make your life last forever. It takes guts to confront this vulnerable truth: the only sure thing is how uncertain life is.
“Death is the destination we all share; no one has ever escaped it. Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.” ― Steve Jobs
We avoid thinking about death, yet we fear it in silence. Keeping the “what if I die tomorrow?” question present will free you from that worry that exists at a subconscious level.
You might have read about Peter Thiel, who has expressed interest in “parabiosis” which involves getting blood transfusions from young people, for purpose of longevity – to prevail and outlive others.
Death is certain and life is not. This life is temporary and for death be prepared.
The ultimate reality is death
Death is a reality every single living creature will experience. No one’s health, wealth, status, or riches ever saved them from dying and being buried or cremated with nothing.
Humans tend to be very short-sighted when planning for their future. We plan for school, college, a career, family, children, retirement. However, it tends to stop at that. Why don’t we plan for what we are certain will happen without a doubt?
Until the mid-20th Century, most people died at home, with their families and community around them. Death was an accepted part of everyday life. Since then, our Western relationship with death has changed greatly. We live much longer, and most of us will die in a hospital seeking for a cure, or in a hospice where they provide palliative (comfort-related) care that enables a patient to live his or her final days as cosy as possible, rather than at home with our families. This means that remarkably few of us have been present at the moment of the closely related, in their death beds.
When people die in institutions. It’s easy to become enmeshed in medical and clinical processes and practices, where emphasis is placed on life – extending treatment and on our own desire for our relative or friend to recover, rather than on what the dying person really needs.
I am trying my best to instil some fear in to your hearts, it is something which has got an undeniable and irrefutable reality – it is not fiction but an actual fact, and an unavoidable certainty. What else could it be but death?
Death overtakes everyone
The death-knell has already been sounded and it would not even have a moment’s delay in its visit. See that the sight of thousands of living human beings around you does not deceive you. All of them are bound to go, sooner or later, one following the other.
You have had enough experience of great leaders, tyrants and dictators. They had amassed wealth and was afraid of poverty. They thought that they were immune from the consequences of life. They had inordinately high hopes and had considered themselves to be safe from the hands of death.
Where are they now? Where are their descendants for whom they amassed wealth? They’re dead and gone and almost completely forgotten.
You have seen how death overtook them. You have seen how death wrenched them away from their hearth and home; wife and children and family – and quite often in the most unusual and dreadful circumstances.
Have you not seen such people had great expectations? Did you not see how they had built palatial houses to live in and had collected great wealth around themselves? The reality is that you would have also seen the pall-bearers carrying their caskets with their cadavers in side lifting on their shoulders – straight to their graves.
Did not their houses turn into graves? Did not the wealth hoarded by them destroyed? Have you not seen how their wealth was inherited by others? Did not their widows marry other persons?
Did you not see how families start arguing and fighting to grab the wealth of the deceased person? Haven’t you seen sibling rivalry raising its ugly head and create a division of loyalties, causing further resentments and disputes and destroying families?
Many families have wound up befuddled when, after the death of a loved one, they find themselves at odds over the person’s material possessions. As a family, they typically don’t express their love through gifts, objects, or money. Yet all of a sudden they are arguing over stuff; much of it which they hadn’t cared about or wanted until after their loved one died.
Indeed, we understand that grief can stir a whole host of extreme and seemingly irrational emotions. But what’s shocking is that, in almost all the cases, these painful conflicts never get resolved. Families embroiled in a legal dispute often end up racking up more in legal costs than they could ever hope to gain from an inheritance. Fighting to the bitter end.
What is amazing is that they do not realise that their families for whom they are amassing wealth, name and fame too will face the same disgusting experience among the family circles and close relatives, when they die.
Know that, in this world, neither death leaves off the work of destruction nor the survivors give up their sinful activities. When death overtook them they could not make any addition to their deeds – neither were they in a position to offer any excuse for the evil lives they had led.
Learn and remember that everything in this world is such that those who crave may get satisfaction of it today and get disgusted with it tomorrow. This is true of everything – Everyone desires to live, for nobody gets really tired of life.
But remember that the thought of death is the source of knowledge which will bestow new lives to minds which have been dead to the truth; The thought of death certainly will give vision to eyes blind to realities; The thought of death will confer power of hearing to ears deaf to the inner voice of conscience and reasoning.
There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts – Mahatma Gandhi.