Deficiency diseases. April 12, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: community belonging, community values, Eknath Easwaran, moral behavior, Mother Teresa, sense of community
“Resentment, hostility, alienation, and selfishness are deficiency diseases.”
—Eknath Easwaran, Words to Live By
Not to mention frustration, isolation, and lack of moderation or self-control. Silence Dogood here. I was reminded of this quote this morning when our paper headlined the story of a man who kicked his wife to death in our area yesterday.
The couple, in their mid-50s, had lived quietly and apparently happily in a tight-knit, peaceful neighborhood for 20-plus years. Just that morning, they’d attended a neighbor’s funeral, holding hands and looking content just to be near each other, according to the report.
But, as we all know, looks—even 20-plus years of looks—can be deceiving. Apparently, the wife had a substance-abuse problem. Given their age, at a guess, it was alcohol rather than drug abuse, but I can’t say with certainty; I couldn’t finish the article after reading the manner of the wife’s death.
Her husband wanted her to go into rehab. She refused, not an uncommon reaction. But rather than seeking help, he went ballistic. And, having become enraged, rather than simply shouting and shoving, he dragged her into their basement, zip-taped her to a beam, and kicked her so hard in the back and stomach that she eventually bled to death. When apprehended, his sole comment was, “I lost it. End of story.”
As someone who suffered from internal bleeding from endometriosis for decades, I can assure you that her death must have been agonizing. As a child I had learned of the horrors of hemophilia from reading about the Tsarevich of Russia, Prince Alexei Romanov, and the agonies he suffered from internal bleeding. But I didn’t really believe it was the most painful thing imaginable until I suffered internal bleeding myself. I had no Rasputin to save me from the agony, nor would I take drugs, lest I might actually die during one of the bleeding episodes and not be aware of it.
In the case of this poor woman, coupled with the agony itself was the betrayal. That her husband, to whom she was devoted enough to remain married through her adult life, would turn on her in this way, would deliberately bind her to a beam, and would then kick the life out of her: How could she ever have envisioned this? How could she have imagined that he would sum up her life and death by saying, “End of story”? We’re speaking of a human being with a full, rich life here, not the plot of some TV episode.
This is a wake-up call to all of us to put a pause between our impulses and our actions. It is also a call to connect, to our partners or spouses, to our children, siblings, and parents, to our friends, to our extended family, to our neighbors. To create strong support so we can get help as often as we need it, and offer it in our turn.
Blessed Mother Teresa, who spent her life rescuing the abandoned from the gutters of Calcutta and allowing them to die clean, nourished, and knowing they were loved, didn’t cite them as humanity’s greatest sufferers. Instead, she pointed to the alienated, loveless life of those of us in the wealthy West as the ultimate in suffering: Those who, whatever their material wealth, were impoverished in terms of love and connection, compassion, even the most basic morality. Our selfishness and sense of entitlement has alienated us from everyone, as Eknath Easwaran says.
Let us re-evaluate our human condition before it is too late.
‘Til next time,