Editorial: For whom the bell tolls

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Another day, and another death under unusual circumstances. This time it was the discovery of a decomposing body in an abandoned building on St. George’s Street. Last weekend, a body was found at Bath Lodge, Bendal’s main road. So sad! Actually, even in the seasoned OBSERVER media newsroom, a newsroom, mind you, accustomed to gruesome and shocking footage and events, the past few days have been especially disturbing. We wish for a respite.
Of course, these are not just bodies; nay, these are brothers, dads, uncles, nephews. This is some mother’s boy.  Somewhere, families are grieving, and we certainly join in consoling them in their grief. We feel their pain and terrible sense of loss.
Meanwhile, we are hoping that Antiguans and Barbudans are not now so jaded as to merely shrug and go on with ‘business as usual’ in the face of this daily diet of death. Let it never get to the point where our sensibilities become so desensitised that even the goriest of images and news reports no longer elicit outrage and revulsion. We ought still to avert our eyes, to whisper a quick prayer, to question why, and to look for answers to these tragedies that that still ought to vex our souls. True, “There are only two things certain in life – death and taxes,” but we never want to get to that stage where the demise of one of our own, especially under unusual circumstances, becomes something less than jarring.
Of course, notwithstanding the inevitability of death, that is certainly no reason for us to cease to live  – that is, we all ought to live and enjoy life to its fullest. The great Marcus Aurelius once said, “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live!” Let us never end our years here on earth with words of regret, such as the words ruefully uttered by Marlon Brando in that American classic, ON THE WATERFRONT where he sighs, “I could have been a contender!  I coulda, I woulda, I shoulda!”  Carpe diem! (Latin) (‘Seize the moment!’) Let us grasp every opportunity to do something especially meaningful and enjoyable because the opportunity may never again present itself. Think Aiki Flinthart’s four things that come not back: “ . . . The spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life and the neglected opportunity.” And of course, think Mark Twain’s sober reminder that, “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
Which brings us back to the morbid headlines of these past few weeks. It would seem to us that many of these deaths were untimely, and the unusual circumstances, make them all the more tragic. A part of us died with each death.  Apparently, we’re all connected, in ways big and small! Whether we think it or not, we need each other! As per John Donne in his classic, NO MAN IS AN ISLAND, “No man is an island entire of itself / Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . .  /Any man’s death diminishes me  because I am involved in mankind / And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls / It tolls for thee!” We are part and parcel of each other. Let us live our lives as though that is really so – by caring and giving a damn!

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