Death of a Cousin

What does it say about myself, that for all intents and purposes my cousin Jeff’s death has not really affected me, at all?

Yes he was family, but I only meet the guy a handful of times, mostly when I was very young, and I never really knew the guy.  I’m not sad and my only real concern is for my mom and those others in the family who have actually been affected by this death.  I feel like I’m in a Seinfeld episode.

Five or six years ago, I would have been very somber about the death and would have prayed hard and deeply for Jeff and those grieving.  I would have kept Jeff in my prayers for years to come so as to help him out of purgatory and into Heaven.  Now I’m so calloused to things I’m looking to exploit his death for my own purposes, as fodder for a story.

I was tempted to use the word “tragic” a few times in referring to Jeff’s death.  But I truly feel that would have be an egregious misuse of the word.  The effects of a tornado or hurricane or earthquake are tragic.  The death of a man who has drunk himself to death over the course of 30 years, that’s not tragic.  It’s a series of bad mistakes that has continued along until time ran out and he no longer had a chance to make the right decision.

Who am I to judge Jeff’s choice of lifestyle?

It boils down to choice and addiction.  Addiction may be something you live with for all your life, but at the base of it all isn’t it a choice between indulging you addiction or not?

Damn it all, it appears that questions like this inevitability lead back to the basic question of the purpose, meaning, or goal of life.

Everyone has a poison or vice, right?

The most devote, religious man, who refrains from excessive drink, many times eats poorly or too much.

We all have our vices and many try to claim moral superiority by saying that their vices are not as bad as others vices.

As human beings don’t we all have different tastes, whether it be in regards to food, fashion, music, or movies?  Doesn’t it follow that we all have our different taste in vices?  The more excessive vices are used by the outliers of society…

It’s as though my brain is trying to come up with an understanding of human behavior which encompasses individual and group behavior.  Our governments and cultures have arisen and we develop mores that frown upon certain behavior.  Do these norms and mores develop out of trial and error and our group understanding of the best way for society to function for the most amount of people, or are they based upon outdated religious mores which worked for the betterment of society at the time and place in which they arose?

On an individual level, we are no different than our ancestors from 100 years ago or 5000 years ago.  Are we really any different as a group organism than our ancestors?

We have been raised in American culture to believe that life is always getting better.  While I will concede that technologically we are improved,  it is as though our technological intelligence has far outpaced our social intelligence. . .

It all comes back to this: existence is.

There is no right or wrong, good or evil.  All just is.

This could lead to apathy and no drive to improve society. . .

Is this series of questioning leading back to inherent characteristics and choice?  In a certain sense I believe that MLK was who he was and almost couldn’t help but be a leader.  I’m not saying he didn’t make hard choices and sacrifices and put in a lot of work, but I would say that he couldn’t help but do that, it was who he was.

It’s the goddamn nature nurture issue!   AGHH!

I don’t feel like digging in this hole anymore.

Author: Brandon Fischer

University of Texas graduate and beer lover.

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