Is Death Bad?
IS DEATH BAD?
Death is the scariest word for almost every individual and unfortunately it is inevitable. It is truly scary for us because there is no scientific information explaining the happenings after death. Considering that death means a complete loss of our consciousness, unknown things in the human life scares us. Every individual on the world, from the beginning of the history to the last generation on the world, develops a lifestyle and social relations during their lives, and death ends all of them. Also breathing and being able to move around and run after passion on the world seem to be inalienable for the individuals. After death, we lose all these things that we are perfectly used to do every day.
However, the humankind has developed some psychological defense methods against the fear of death. The communities still living in the jungles or the ancient communities, and the modern communities living in the developed countries have developed different ways to explain death. These explanations or the definitions of death in different communities mainly aim at developing a psychological power for people to cope with the fear of death.
Another approach to death is from the point view of biology and ecology. This approach explains death as a natural occurring. As every creature becomes alive in a way, they pass away in a natural way. Thus, death is ecologically and biologically inevitable and necessary. Death is a part of the ecological and biological system that has run from the beginning of the history. In simple words, death is a transformation of the nature that enables it to reproduce itself. If the death does not exist, and then the natural capacity of our world would not be sustainable that means the end of the world.
In this essay, I will discuss three main points: 1) the ecological sustainability, 2) why the fear of death exists, and 3) how the humankind has developed an emotional defense against the fear of death. The conclusion part will summarize and reveal some results from the point view of the natural sustainability. In fact, the emotional approach developed by the humankind and the natural sustainability is perfectly related, and death is necessary for a sustainable environment.
The Mother Nature manages the ecological sustainability through some mechanisms in nature. The science that the humankind developed has been spending effort to understand the natural mechanisms. Understanding the nature enables the humankind develop new technologies to make relatively better surviving conditions for the humankind. However, the scientists cannot understand the natural mechanisms perfectly, and even one can claim that the humankind does not have the full information of all the creatures on the world. Death is one of the most important aspects of the ecological sustainability. Many studies on death try to explain why people, plants, animals, and some other ecological systems die are trying to develop an understanding of death in the nature.
Death is a scary fact for the people; however, death is, at the same time, is a natural miracle. Death of some creatures on the world makes an essential contribution to the ecological sustainability through feeding other ecological systems in the world. Systematically, some plants, animals, people, and other creatures give their bodies back to the nature, and there exist some transformation mechanisms in the nature those process the dead bodies, plants, and other things into food and some other natural resources. These food and natural resources enable the next generations to refresh themselves and survive in the nature. The death is not the end for the ecological system; it is the end for individual actors in the nature.
There exists a perfect balance in the nature. The balance is protected through the deaths of some creatures. For instance, if the wolves on the world disappear, and then the other creatures those are below the wolves in the food chain can increase their population rapidly. In many developing countries, people hunt the wolves and some other predators because these animals attack and damage other domestic animals and cities. However, the hunting activities are mostly not under control and some of these predators become extinct. The humankind destroys the balance in the nature, and the lack of the natural balance causes relatively more damages.
The main issue with the destruction of the natural balance is the increasing population of the humankind. The humankind could develop new health care technologies and food production technologies, and these advanced technologies allow the humankind to live relatively longer, increase the fertility rate and decrease the deaths at early ages. As a result of these technological advancements, the world is overpopulated. The high level of population is creating a high pressure on the nature, and the natural mechanism is not working efficiently. The interruptions to the nature change everything in the world ecology, and even deaths of the plants and the animals on the world are changing. The ecology includes a death chain inside it, and the transformation of the ecology through deaths is changing.
Malthus, a famous philosopher and economist, developed the natural law that is named after his name. The Malthusian law simply expresses that when the economic development increases on the world, the world population increases, and the pressure on the natural resources causes some sicknesses and natural disasters. The sicknesses and the natural disaster cause many deaths and the world population decreases. In the short term, we observe that the development or the deaths; however, in the long term, the world population and the ecological environment reaches a balanced point. The world has the capacity to host a certain number of people, and when the world population exceeds this limit, and then the death mechanism works.
Consequently, the death mechanism is the transformation of the ecological system, and technology developed by the humankind could not develop any way to interrupt this system. The technological advancements are making people live relatively longer; however, in the long run the Malthusian law is still working.
The Fear of Death
Every creature has the fear of death, and for some people, it turns to be the fear anxiety that is accepted as a psychological sickness. There exist many reasons behind the fear of death. Being alive is the usual thing that we know; however, death is something we do not have any scientific information about it. Death means not being able to breathe, eat, have fun with friends, and a sickness that there is no recovery. The scientist approach determines some reasons for the fear of death and many famous scientists work on the fear of death.
Sigmund Freud names the expression of the fear of death by the people as Thanatophobia. Freud simply tells us that any individual does not believe that he or she will die, or they do not want to accept this idea. Because of that, observing other people's deaths and their death stories do not influence the live individuals. They cannot imagine their deaths because being alive is like morphine for the people. In another word, the people live in their dreams, and they cannot imagine that this dream will end one day. However, every death that one person observes reminds him or her that one day it will happen to him or her. Especially, when people get older, they see that their friends at the same age with them pass away, and then they feel the closeness of the death to them. Consequently, aging reminds us the death and we become more scared.
Another essential explanation of the fear of death is defined by Erik Erikson. Erikson defines the ego integrity. A human, after birth, starts developing himself or herself and passing through a nonlinear life path, he or she starts understanding the reality. At the late ages, a person becomes relatively more aware of what he or she truly wants in life; however, they become relatively more aware of death. The end of their life is unknown, and the person becomes nervous about reaching his or her goals in life. Considering that the person completes his or her ideas at a late age, they have a limited short time left. This nervous state might cause the fear of death.
The humankind has developed an important experience from the beginning of the history, and one of the main defenses has been against the predators. The predators might attack and damage the human body. Because of that damage, people are afraid of being hurt. The death means all the body is under danger. This instinct might cause the fear of death.
Ernest Becker explains the fear of death through developing an understanding of getting relatively more aware of inevitable death. The individuals face many sicknesses and troubles in their lives; however, death is inevitable. The simplest expression for explaining this inevitability, people kill each other to be able to live forever or a bit longer. The inevitability of death makes people desperate, and it makes them unhappy. Subsequently, they develop a fear for death.
The religious approaches claim that the humankind is terribly related to the material world; thus, the loss of the material world is an important fear for them. Death is the main real reason behind the separation from the world materials. According to the religious approaches, if a person believes in the other world, and then this person does not have the fear of death because he or she knows that their death is not the end; it is only another beginning in another world.
Some other scientists claim that the uncertainty in death causes the fear of death. No scientific method can reveal the date when a person will die until the death is so close explicitly like some bad injuries or cancers. A recent incidence in the U.S. gives us an important example about the fear of death. A young woman who had a cancer preferred ending her life before she loses her abilities to use her organs. Because she was aware that she might die very soon, she prepared herself for death. The uncertainty was at a low level, and as a result of this, she could cope with the fear of death.
The people can react to the idea of death differently in their different live terms. The young people are mostly away from the idea of death while the elderly people try to get used to it. Also, the conditions in their countries, cities, or places might shape the people’s thoughts about death. For instance, the people living in the Middle Eastern countries face death every day, and dying is something sudden for them. Subsequently, the people in these countries do not have the conditions to fear the death. During peace times, people have relatively better conditions to think about death. Subsequently, the conditions and the time interval a person is in might influence how this person considers death. Death is a given condition at the beginning of our lives, and in time we develop an understanding of death. In each stage of our lives, death means something different to us. The conditions we live in also determine the meaning of death. The general fear of death might have different reflections in different times, persons, and places. The death might be the beginning or disappearance from the world.
Defense against the Fear of Death
The humankind has started discussing the death from the beginning of the humankind history. The story of Cain and Abel tells us about how the death shaped the community. There are many other ancient and religious stories talking about death. An important example is from the primitive communities living around the Amazon River. The river has caused many deaths. Because of that, the people believe that the river has an evil power in it that might control the lives of the people, and the people there consider the river as their god. Also, many other religious stories tell us about how the definition of death shapes the social life. Each community or each belief develops a way of explaining death.
The religions play an important role for motivating people to have some goals in life. Especially, during the war, hunger, and plea times, many people look for a belief to increase their emotional powers. When there is no solution, believing an imaginary solution helps people fight against their problems. The humankind has observed this many times in the past. In the Middle Age, the European countries suffered from the Black Death, and many people preferred staying in the Church lands. After the natural disasters, we still can observe that many people starts praying, and some people believe that the God is punishing us because of our sins.
The religions define death, and other natural happenings us and the believers find easy explanations about the things they cannot explain by following the religious ideas. Thus, the religion makes life relatively easier for the believers. All the people are afraid of losing their lives; however, the religions open a new door for the believers by offering another life after death. There is another life; therefore, if you feel that the world is unfair to you, you will receive compensation on the other side.
The understanding of death in different religions causes different results in the societies. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism tell us that the fairness is the main issue in people's life. The God judges us after death, and then the people will place into the heaven or the hell depending on their deeds. Thus, the people should worry about how they live, but their death. If you are a good believer with good deeds, and then your death is a ticket to go to the God’s heaven. In this case, you do not need to worry about death. If you are a bad person with many sins, you will be placed into the hell. According to these religions, the world life is an exam.
Some other Asian religions believe that there is no difference between the world before and after death. Thus, a person has to have the same lifestyle in this world and on the other side. Because of that, we observe that some people live away from the material world life. Reincarnation has a similar story. Consequently, the religions have developed an understanding of death to release people from the fear of death.
Death is not bad or good thing. Death shapes the individuals’ beliefs and the social life in many aspects. Depending on the people’s beliefs and understanding, the meaning of death differs. The meaning of death is something social and personal. Subsequently, even though many of the people are afraid of death, it might be something good for some people.
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