Lately the Australian Government made me laugh! They have been fighting an incredibly costly legal battle in their Supreme Court to force the Tobacco Companies eliminate individual logos from their packets of cigarettes and won. Great, and so what? Now from the 1st December cigarettes packets in Australia will be sold in a uniform packaging covered with photos of the horrible damage that smoking does, and it does; no doubt about it. Is this going to make people stop smoking, I doubt it and is it going to increase the life span of the non-smokers? I doubt that too!
The countdown to certain death begins at conception, it is a very simple fact of life which is undisputable, in fact it is the only real certainty we have. We don’t know when, how, why, in what way, at what time, what day, what age, what manner, but we all know for certain that we are all dead men and women walking.
The whole planet is a gigantic Russian roulette table, 1 bullet in the chamber while the other 5 are empty an the drum is turns all the time, and no one knows where in which chamber the bullet is. It’s a certainty though, and there is no doubt whatsoever about this, that eventually it will blow your brains out. In some cases right away, in some others it will take a little bit longer, with some it will be quick, with others extremely painful but it will get there inevitably.
Mankind somehow as never being able to accept the inevitability of death, and has tried all possible means to *soften the blow”, the majority by adopting some form religion or spiritual beliefs be it whatever, Jehovah God, Jesus, Allah, Zeus, Thor, Odin, Buddha, nature, fire, water, developed concepts of Heaven, Hell, Nirvana, Walhalla, all imaginary venues where once this life finishes there will be the reward of eternal life. Others by concentrating on the accumulation of the material wealth of life. As if this somehow made up for the inevitability of death. It doesn’t. If there one thing that believers and non- believers have in common is that sooner or later they are going to die. And NO ONE, be it a Believer or a non-Believer knows with absolute mathematical certainty what happens next. Non-religious people are just as afraid of death as the religious ones, instead of relying on the mythical they turn to the material, money, power, fast cars, yachts, and all the panoplies of wealth in general, some get it, others try to, many fail but all, on all both sides share to a varying degree the same frustrations, and the lack of real satisfaction in their lives. Both sides share this nagging fear at the back of their heads of the certainty of death and of the imponderable of what follows. This conflict in the mind of men results in what we see around us, wars, famine, and the slow but inexorable destruction of our natural habitat.
Religions have tried in their own way, but have all failed miserably because of their obstinacy to pass their vision of the truth as supreme above another, to regulate, and with some good ideas how we might live and arrange our societies, so if take out of their equation the mythical supernatural inventions, we could putting to work the pragmatism of the atheist and the passion of the religious create, if we really wanted to, to build true a sense of community, improve the relationships amongst ourselves, escape the hold of a mind numbing 24 hour media, travel more, appreciate more the arts and music, open our minds to other cultures and practices, and create businesses that are designed not only to give employment but that can cater to our emotional needs.
I have always suspected that more than destiny, mathematics is somehow involved in the process of life and death; or that what men call destiny is linked to a process of mathematical calculation; don’t ask me why because I cannot really explain it in a reasonable way. I had a friend, Piet Van Der Baren, we both took part during the Border Wars in South Africa from 1974 to 1982, to some of the craziest and most brutal and violent actions of that war, I saw him charge a Cuban machine gun nest at Cassinga running right in front of them and there were bullets flying everywhere, and not a scratch! On May 3rd 2001, my brother called me from South Africa and gave me the news that Piet had died in a domestic accident. He was coming down the stairs slipped on a toy from one of his kids and fell backwards breaking his neck dying instantly. By all logic, both should have died a 1000 times in that bloody war, and yet he died in such a ridiculous way.
Most people spend their entire life being afraid of death, but maybe more than a fear of death in the strict sense of the word it’s a fear of the imponderable of those endlessly revolving mathematical numbers that when they stop on you it’s bye bye. Death can come at any time, we go to office or even for a walk with the dog and there is really no absolute guarantee that we will be alive at the end of each day. Like those people who went to watch that movie in Colorado, where the mad gunman started shooting, killing, I think 10 or 15 people, none of them coming out of their houses or offices that day thought that they were going to die in that movie theatre. None of them thought that that was the last day of their life. Or like a the 20 year old girl that went out this Sunday, August 19th with her boyfriend and a bunch of friend to kayak on the river, and drowned because her kayak got caught in the heavy currents and overturned between two rocks and she couldn’t turn the damn thing upright as she was stuck. She too, when she went out, met her boyfriend, laughed with her friends had no clue that today was going to be her last day. Her number was up! As well thousands of other numbers through the planet, some died of old age, some in accidents, some in war, some too early, some were murdered, some committed suicide, the fact is that they are all dead. Tomorrow many through the world will have their numbers called and so on.
If there is one that I learned very quickly in my life, by a combination of the education I received from my parents, growing up in South Africa during the Apartheid period, and the army is to think in black and white, and never to think in “if, but, maybe, perhaps, what if.” Facts are facts, and they are immutable. In war you kill or you die, it’s very simple, in life you are born to die, also very simple and I believe that it is the acceptance of this simplicity that terrifies the minds of men, and that is why it was necessary to invent Religions and a whole host supernatural make belief parallel worlds.
I have said this before, but in December 2010 I was plagued by terrible migraines, that when they hit the feeling was probably like being a punch bag for a training session of Mike Tyson. So I decided to get a complete check-up at St. Gallen General Hospital, after many exams and probes they found what was wrong me. I have cancer, not the lung cancer that could be expected by the fact that I smoke, my lungs are fine; but a little dot the size of a Euro five cent coin at the back of my head that is called a Glioma, and it is malignant. These little bastards are called Astrocytomas, initially they are slow growing, and according to my doctors it was caught at the beginning, therefore for most of last year I subjected to Chemo and host of drugs that all combined made my life an absolute hell. Now notwithstanding all these palliatives, because that’s what they are, the little bastard has evolved into a glioblastoma and it slowly but surely growing. It will kill me well before my 60th birthday. I am 56. So I told the doctors that I do intend to spend what is left of life with tubes, monitors and all these drugs that impair me in my everyday life, so now I go to the hospital once a week for a check-up, but try to live my life to the full. When I see that I cannot cope, as I have to privilege of being a resident of Switzerland, where people are allowed to die on their own terms and with dignity, I have arranged to be taken to a lovely clinic in the Swiss mountains, and there I can “call it a life”.
There is something very liberating about all this, about knowing more or less the day when you are going to go. It somehow takes away the stress of living. In fact I am enjoying every day and every minute of my life at present.
I look around me, at the world and the way we live, and I have to laugh. I look at all these “so called religious people”, living a life of stress, obsession with Godly punishments, their concepts of Sin, and eternal life, jihads, rituals of purifications, obsession with sexual restrictions, and the amount of misery they inflict to themselves and to others and all because of a deep seated fear of trying to find an answer to questions that have no answer. Questions that are not based on facts but on “if, but, maybe, perhaps”; I have never believed in God or Gods, and that since I developed the ability to read as a child. Furthermore one of the great loves of my life, aside women, has been, and still is history, and that coupled with the knowledge of the school of life convinces me that God is just a myth. Can I prove it 100% and with mathematical certainty: NO!
So I adopt a very simple route: facts tell me that there is no God, however whether there is on or not at the end of day, well………………………quite frankly I don’t give a crap. I wake up every morning and it is the beginning of a new day, it means that I am alive, so why worry; time is far too precious a thing to waste it in suppositions of an empirical nature.
There is no need to afraid of death; it is a fact of life. Live life to the full, and do not waste time, because time that is wasted never comes back.
NOW I WILL SHARE THIS WITH YOU:
A GOOD DAY TO DIE
It was always with this sentence:
“A GOOD DAY TO DIE”
That we smiled and went into battle
Giving her the “two fingers” in her face
Come and get me
But then we were fighting an enemy
A tangible enemy
An enemy we all could see!
Russians, Cubans and Kaffirs
They screamed, cried and died just like us
Us or them
We had a chance!
But here I am fighting an enemy I cannot see
An enemy I cannot kill
An enemy that this time will kill me
Little microscopic cells eating at my body
Destroying me from the inside
The ultimate Commando
Biology’s Death Squads
I have seen Death’s smile and felt her foul breath on me many a times
From Angola to Portugal
It is something that I have always accepted
A part of the game I chose to play many years ago
A soldier’s game:
Kill or be Killed!
But this time THE WHORE has me
This one I can’t fight back
This is no Russian with a spade
Or Kaffir with a machete
Here my Gonga is totally useless
So @!$%# you Death! And @!$%# you hard
Because I have seen the worst of men in combat and life
But also the very best in men
And the best of man is priceless
A real friend makes you the richest man in world
Two names... Two real friends
The very best of friends
So you see Death, you wonderful whore and constant shadow of my life
From this hospital bed in this postcard country
Makes this day
A GOOD DAY TO DIE
Written in Kantonspital St.Gallen 05/12/2012