These are The Ways in Which We Die

not afraidBY VIOLENCE. Victims of crime, of hatred, of regrettable circumstance.

By disease, like the cancer that took ESPN anchor Stuart Scott.

By fate, sudden and unexpected. Like a heart attack, a car accident. Like the brain bleed that took my wife’s uncle last week.

And by time. Old age, wearing out. “Natural” causes.

These are the ways in which we die. It will happen to all of us, some way, some how. Death can’t be avoided, as much as some of us try — and as much as some others try to welcome its eventual embrace.

We can’t control it. But we can control this:

  • When death arrives by violence, we can respond by defending and celebrating human rights. Like the thousands with pens held high in Paris and throughout the world who refused to let ignorant ideology silence free expression
  • When death arrives by disease, we can fight until we have no fight left and serve as inspiration to others. Like Scott, who reminded us what truly matters — family, friends, and standing up when all you want to do is lay down.
  • When death arrives by fate, we can take heed and live each day as if it’s the most important day ever lived, because it is. And like my wife’s uncle, we can take comfort in how he donated his organs so that so many others can live full lives.
  • And when death arrives by time, we can look back, hopefully, on having made an impact on the world, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Because if I learned anything in my brief stay on Earth, it’s that nothing we do is insignificant. Ever.

Let this be the legacy of Charlie Hebdo. That the ways in which we die shall never change the ways in which we choose to live.

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