G. Reale, A History of Ancient Philosophy: The Schools of the Imperial Age, trans. John R. Catan (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990) 260.
The following is from the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, which has an indeterminate date:
…do not become accustomed to acting inconsiderately in any matter, but know that it is the fate of everyone to die.
This verse seems to be saying that remembering human mortality will make us kinder people.
A lot of things go through my mind as I read this.
There’s the scene in Oliver Stone’s W, in which George W. Bush’s pastor says to George (before he became governor): “I want you to imagine that everyone around you will die tomorrow, and reach out to them with all of the love that you can muster.” The implication was that George would be more likely to love people who would die the next day.
I recently read a book by Dayna Dunbar, The Saints and Sinners of Okay County. In it, the main character, Aletta, is estranged from her mother Nadine (over religion and something that happened years earlier), but they finally reconcile right before Nadine’s death. I’m not sure if Aletta had regrets that she didn’t develop a stronger bond with her mom years earlier, but that’s how relationships are: various things can divide people, whether they be conflicting personalities, a wounded self-image, annoyance, grudges, insults, trying to force others to be a certain way, etc. Should people assume that these things are unimportant and remain in the relationship, for the sake of peace? Should they confront the other party, hoping that he or she will change? Should they be aloof from the relationship and say “Good bye” at the very last minute? What if they’re too late?
I also think of a scene from Desperate Housewives, the one in which we meet Mike Delfino’s father, who’s in prison for murder. Mike’s father had deep hatred for a man, but he feels horrible whenever he thinks about the time he choked him to death with his tie.
I’ve seen shows in which one person mortally hurts another and says to the unconscious body, “I didn’t mean it. Get up!” Something about seeing a lifeless body can foster a regard for a person’s humanity.
Except when it doesn’t. In the movie Misery, based on the Stephen King novel, I’m sure most viewers are thinking at the end, “Man, when is this psychotic woman going to die? Can anything kill her?” But Annie Wilkes had enslaved Paul Sheldon and was trying to kill him, so the feeling many of us have when she finally dies is relief at Paul’s newfound freedom.
On that note, I’ll close here. Have a good day!