Tuesday, 18 March 2008

A double-edged word of comfort

peace dove
Yesterday, at a funeral service, a word of comfort has provoked some thoughts. "He entered the house of peace", said the priest. There is much truth in this picture, but also much potential of horrible misconceptions. It is very double-edged, this word of comfort.

It may have soothed the grief of the widow and her children and grandchildren, because nobody can deny that peace has many positive connotations. Peace is the absence of struggle, but struggle is a part of life, and life is the most precious gift we have. Peace, it seems, is a word with a very broad spectrum of meanings, and not all of them are positive.

When death is the end of struggle against a painful disease, such a word about peace has its merits of comfort. It's fine this way, and I have nothing to say against it. But the "house of peace" makes me feel uncomfortable. It is pushing the idea too far. House of peace sounds too positive in my ears.

Of course, the issue of afterlife has been omnipresent in the funeral service. But I did not spend much thought about this irreal idea but put my focus on the real things. In the comforting word, two very real things meet: death and peace. More precisely, selling death as peace.

As said before, death may also have positive aspects when it ends a period of suffering without any hope of cure. And this one has been such a case.

But what I dislike in the "house of peace" is the idea of a positive value other than the end of suffering and pain. It sounds like a "better world than ours". For a reality-bound mind like me, the idea that death equals peace, and death is not life, and peace is positive, all this leads me to the conclusion that this word of comfort, in trying to make death more acceptable, takes away some value from life. And this is exactly the opposite of how I see these things.

Much worse! The clergy meets terrorism in this aspect, without bad will, of course. But good will of some people may have the same bad consequences as bad will of other people. Terrorists, too, are ready to equal death and peace. Needless to say that they mean the death of their enemies. Remember that "peacemaker" is a Wild West slang word for a gun? And every protester-killing terror regime will contend that they have "made peace". Using death and peace as synonyms can be very tricky and dangerous.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/chrissy1003/560324162/

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