Dec 11 2009

Will to Live … Fight to Die

by John Immel (click here for MP3 Audo)

In the first week of December 2009, I found out that a woman I know died. The papers declared it a “non-suspicious death” found under a bridge. My contacts in Law Enforcement said this is code for suicide by hanging. She was 40 and beautiful, and two kids and two grand kids. The news took my breath away. The words hit my heart like a hammer. To this minute, the reality twists inside: a knotted, ugly thing.

I knew her well and understood her thinking and grasped the core of her thoughts. Indeed, we talked at length about her thoughts, ideas, and deeply-held beliefs. In moments of transparency, she read me her poetry. The words and rhythm and meter were crafted together, sonnets to psychic pain that questioned her moral clarity to live: intimate songs with verses of despair, counterpointed with a refrain of hope.

Of course, I asked the whys and wherefores of her actions. What else was there to do? How could it have been prevented? The what ifs and the woulda, shoulda, coulda. And, of course, there are a thousand “it depends” answers.

There were hard parts to her life, but many other people have suffered worse. There were patches of profound injustice. But at 40, she could have enforced her own righteous standards. In the human life equivalencies game, she was neither the worst Schleprock nor the most extraordinary Midas without the curse. Like everyone, she lived on that endless relative slide rule of good and bad: a culmination of personal choices, ill fortune, injustice, and blessing.

But the reality is this does not matter because the cause and effect of her actions are not external. The cause and effect of her actions are internal, the product of specific ideas integrated into a whole that demanded action. And ideas always demand action.

Ideas by themselves are powerful. But ideas that fit together to make a philosophical whole, a prevailing worldview-those integrated Ideas are the most powerful forces on the planet. Every THING and every ONE becomes a tool in service to the philosophical ends. Philosophy is the power to create life or destroy it. Philosophy is the power to make war, or create peace. Philosophy is the blunt force behind evil and the driving energy of good. Philosophy is the force of human existence and the governing supremacy of God’s Covenants of Promise. Philosophy is the power to rule the world.

What were her integrated ideas? Said bluntly, hers was a philosophy of war. There is nothing accidental or hapless about self-termination. Suicide is an act of warfare. It is the intentional effort to wage combat on life: to strike back at what has become the source of pain directly and commit violence against all others indirectly.

And like all war, suicide is the culmination of specific ideas. All wars are fought over the logical progression of specific thoughts: the bombs and guns and blood-soaked hills merely the logical extension. And so it is with suicide: the rope, or razor, or auto exhaust, is merely the tool of ideological ends.

As I said in the Gospel according to John Immel Chapter 3: 1-3: All people act logically from their assumptions. It doesn’t matter how irrational the ideas or insane the rationale, they will act until the logic is fulfilled. Therefore, find the assumptions and you will find the cause.

So the real answer to the questions-the whys and wherefores of suicide-are found in understanding the elements, the parts of philosophical self-destruction.

Some might suggest that the cause was despair, because despair is a theme in all suicides. That is true and noteworthy, but it is not the source, but rather a byproduct, the conclusion of ideas that shred the will to live.

What shreds the will to live? Finding the answer to that question requires looking into who we are in context to the world we inhabit.

In the beginning, God…ordered chaos. He took the formless and shapeless and gave it substance and order. Every act of creation was an act of ordering, and every act of ordering was an act of work. His most intimate work, the work that he touched with his hands, was a Son in His image and likeness. To this Son, He gave the charge “Be fruitful and multiply. Rule and subdue the earth.

God created Man to do exactly what He had done: order chaos.  He charged man with this command: Rule and Subdue.  What is true for God is also true for Man: every act of creation is an act of ordering; every act of ordering is an act of work.

To our horrific disservice, the Garden of Eden and life within has been portrayed as some variation of idyllic, stress less, Utopia: a place where naive Adam frolicked with naked wife and ate grapes at leisure. As a result, people live their entire lives with this worklessness as their goal, as if God’s highest blessing is a state of sated inaction. This archetype is so potent that entire economic philosophies are built on its framework, and historic Church doctrines are based on this disastrous conjecture.

Nothing could be further from the truth. From man’s inception, he was given the command to work. The short list of specific work was tending the Garden. Beyond his agricultural duties, Adam was charged to multitask and name the animals. And in both instances, Adam was the beneficiary of his work: prospering from the fruit of the Garden and finding a mate. The work product was entirely self-serving, with no command to share. And last on the list was the general command to rule and subdue the whole world. Notice God commanded an outcome with the execution to be self-directed. Adam had a God-given global vision: a job that was supposed to bring order to the unruly, and conquer the un-subdued in the entire world.

The subsequent mess started with Adam’s failure to understand the implications of individuality by failing to respect private property. In beings whose existence is defined by work, there is no individuality without private property because all creations are a product of work. Work is a result of self. So relationship is impossible without respect for private property. God took the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from His home and planted it in Adam’s backyard. The fruits of those trees were the product of God’s work. That was God’s property.

Here is the “original” sin: Adam coveted. He wanted the unearned.

Whatever the content of the lie that inspired the action, Adam’s eating of the tree was an act of theft, a betrayal of individual trust. And the motive within the action made his eating an act of war. In that moment, Adam was born from life to death, entering solidarity with God’s adversary; an enemy that started a cosmic rebellion against the author of life. This rebellion birthed Adam into unity with “He who had the power of Death.” Man, now bound to Death, was in danger of living forever if he but ate of the Tree of Life. God’s act of mercy drove the cosmic rebel from the Garden of Eden so that he could never condemn himself to eternal disintegration, an eternity of unending degradation.

Relatively speaking, the Garden of Eden was a safe haven from the prevailing earthly chaos. So, outside its bounds, man is thrust into the hostile, chaotic world he was commanded to order. But now there is a serious problem. The earth would not obey. Adam’s words fell on creation’s deaf ears, and the only thing he could produce consistently was sweat and toil, toil, toil.

This is important. Contrary to erroneous historic church doctrine, work was not the curse. The curse was toil. The curse was Man working for the sake of itself and producing nothing that prospered him. The curse was man ordering chaos and achieving no order. The curse was man working to create and giving birth to corruption and death. This should give scope and understanding to God’s warning: “… you shall surely die?”

Life is an awesome power manifest by focus and intention and proclamation. Born of blood and screaming, we enter the world to utter our own cries, our own defiant statement: feed me, fill me, warm me, I want to live. We are creatures defined by work, securing our identity through the organization of the world around. A child’s work is play: a practice of the ordering and ruling to come. We stake our claim to life with our first toy making the Emperors’ decree: MINE!  Our first brush with injustice: the moment Barbie or Ken is ripped from our indignant fingers by marauding toddler forces. Our first declaration of war is delivered to resist property annexation. Barely old enough to speak, we implicitly know that taking property is an individual violation.

If we are fortunate, Mother and Father Allied Forces land at Normandy and enforce the moral foundations of justice as they retrieve hostage Ken doll and impose territorial sovereignty. If we are profoundly unfortunate, Mother and Father put on the NATO blue hats of “peace” keepers preaching endlessly of sharing, and selfishness, and the moral equivalencies of the Ken doll Have-Nots pillaging the Malibu Barbie bourgeois.

And so begins our induction into the collective and the implicit source of human psychological conflict.

We were created to overcome a hostile and chaotic world. Within our very DNA is the requisite ambition, drive, and desire to live and thrive in the face of the Divine Challenge: “Be Fruitful and Multiply. Rule and Subdue the Earth.” Everything on this planet was put here to challenge God’s sons and daughters in a grand dance of creation, an ongoing manifestation of ruling and subduing. One cannot be a candy ass and live in this hostile chaotic world. And to fulfill God’s command, one must be a low-swinging hombre of faith and intention; possessing an unapologetic will to live, and an undeterred expectation to be obeyed.

What turns a creature of God’s caliber into a Wuss? What turns an unapologetic will to live into a fight to die?

The answer is the lifelong, relentless physical and philosophical assault on individual value.

The lessons start young and to most parents seem essential and righteous. You are selfish. You must share. You must not hit. You must not want. You must not compete. You must not have ambition. Highlighting these parental exhortations as failings might seem ridiculous in light of broader life lessons, but the psychic pain has already started. Man must be talked out of freedom. The best way to achieve that goal is guilt, and most parents lead with the time-tested tyrannies that drove them to the collective conformity of family. The ambition to rule and subdue is embattled by the overt philosophical standard that proclaims individuality is fundamentally evil.

Affirm the family lessons in school and in church by eradicating justice-declare all work product fair game for all takers.

Add the overt actions of a Stepfather that pimps out his daughter to his friends, and a mother that says, “You’re not the only girl to have sex with her father. Get over it!” This magnifies the reality that there is no justice because there is no place where the individual is safe. The individual can be exploited at will.

Then fill the mind with doctrines that trivialize justice as a selfish desire for retribution. Indoctrinate the soul with the sick, insane ideology that true love holds no standard and true forgiveness can seek no vindication.

Pile on the philosophical world view that man is wretched and worth nothing more than God’s justifiable damnation.

Inject into the veins the teaching that spiritual life hinges on a proper understanding of internalized despair.

The cherry on top of this spiritually tyrannical dessert is the curse of toil, and the only thing left to do is dig a grave. Nothing grates on a soul more than failing and failing and failing and failing to order the world around him. Nothing makes a soul want to lie down and die more than feeling helpless in the face of chaos.

Don’t miss the lesson by casually dumping suicide off on self-pity.

There probably is some self-pity, but that explanation totally misses the profound moral declarations, the logical conclusion of all those life lessons, the exquisitely precise cause and effect relationship that prompts people to take up arms against SELF.

These are the basics of individual destruction: lead with Unearned Guilt, Abolish Ambition, and Multiply Injustice. These rudiments destroy moral clarity to live and are the rich soil for Unrestrained Chaos to break apart the bedrock of will. Indoctrinated Despair performs the Coup de Grace. This perfect storm of philosophical Self-loathing brews in the nooks and crannies of a person’s life until they no longer have the will to resist the obvious conclusion: you don’t deserve to live because the sum of you is evil. This is what makes a person, a people, a nation take up arms against the endless barrage of dehumanizing ideas and actions. In a final-twisted-act of individuality, they take the only “creative” action they think they can. They act logically from the moral clarity of their assumptions.

This…is what makes a beautiful woman of 40, with kids and grandkids, question her will to live and make her fight to die.

The only difference between this woman and most others holding the same philosophical assumptions is she, in her own warped way, had the courage to carry her assumptions to their inevitable conclusion. All of those elements above drive to one inescapable destination.

Check your philosophy. Does it affirm your will to live, or make you fight to die?

*    *    *


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    1. 16
      John Immel

      Yes… Work, and man’s relationship to it, is the real core of the “human condition”.

    2. 17

      Glad this thread was revived with a comment. I must have missed this one on your blog. Excellent points! Sort of reminds me of the message from  Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”.  His entire books seems to be a drastic  microcosm of what is happening more subtley but on a much larger scale. Also his personal study on who survived in his concentration camp is very interesting. And it was not the most healthy as we would think. But those who had something they really wanted to accomplish in life.

      I came away with Ideas and seeking to implement them are lifeblood 

      1. 17.1
        Janna Chan

        Wow, Lin. Is there a book you haven’t read? :-) I should get a reading list from you!

        1. 17.1.1

          Ha ha, Janna. Well I used to travel a lot and had to have reading material. I don’t  watch tv, so I read, I love to read. And since I have a hard time articulating things, recommending a book is better. Someone might have a differeent take away than mine.

            I first heard of Frankl from Joel Barker, a futurist. who taught on paradigms back in the last 80’s. I highly recommend Frankl’s book for a philosophical view of life’s meaning. Many critisized him for brining God into it. But it fits in some ways with this post. Frankl was a psychiatrist sent to a concentration camp. He developed Logotherapy from his experience.

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