Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Freakout

Today is Friday and Jack Layton is still dead.

Archbishop Ambrozic passed away this morning and a car bomb exploded outside a UN building in Nigeria but because that has nothing to do with Jack Layton, it doesn't matter.

In other news, the Japanese prime minister stepped down over criticism over the nuclear crisis in Fukushima. It is highly unlikely that he knew Jack Layton or that Jack Layton knew him.

The subdued wrath thereof.

British Columbians have voted to quash the unpopular HST. Not really Jack Layton material, I'm afraid.

Now back to Jack. It seems that's all anyone can talk about.

To be blunt at this time might seem like bad form but it all has to be said.

A sudden death or a death by cancer is a tragedy. There is no denying it. What makes Jack Layton's death of cancer more tragic than others eludes me. Are the deaths of children or young mothers of cancer to be overshadowed because they were never in the political spotlight?

Apparently so. If one were to believe the generous-girthed Libby Davis, Jack Layton "gave his life for his country" (I swear to God, she actually said this). That's laying it on thick, isn't it? What does that make the deaths in all the wars Canada has participated in? If the measure for selflessness is living on the taxpayer dime- as Mr. Layton did- and not helping to repel the advancing Americans, destroy the Nazi war machine, stem the human tide of Chinese communist soldiers along the Korean peninsula or stabilise Afghanistan, then we owe a debt of gratitude not to the battle-fallen but to the overfed civil servant. And what a dreadful thought that is. It's a good thing no right-thinking human being could possibly take Miss Davis' words seriously.

With "everybody's favourite uncle" bus tour winding down before his final repose with the vulgar and and intentionally inclusive funeral trappings that would make any Stalinist funeral pale by comparison, we have the outpouring of public grief. I think I find that more appalling. For however wretchedly opportunistic and opulent these displays for Comrade Jack may be, they are expected. What should not be expected is how grief and mourning have been made into a three-ring circus.

We no longer grieve with dignity. We used to internalise loss not because we feared public self-expression but because loss is so personal. We externalised it with prayer, a few kind words and the proper treatment of the deceased's remains. How can loss be so public? Does the loss of a loved one mean the same thing to other loved ones? Could it possibly mean anything to total strangers? Then why the need to weep and vulgarly so (vulgar can be the only world that comes near to expressing what one is seeing now) for someone one did not know at all? Feeling badly for an untimely death and for the ones left behind is natural. What is not natural is this perverse need for rancid amateur poetry, Chinese-made teddy bears, blubbering and lighting candles. It's a mockery of grief. It's making fun of someone's pain by making clownish gestures. It is scarring the need to understand and come to grips with own's one sense that someone cared about is no longer there. Time is the solace for grief, not quasi-pagan public shrines of mottled wax and scrap paper.

And now, all the stuff Indiana Jones gathered over his years of archeology and ark-finding.

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