Is any death different from the other

Fellow sufferers, this post was inspired by a post I read today, the sacrament of remembering.

First I don’t mean disrespect for the dead.

Second, I know many people fear death.

As an observer, I have noticed that some deaths are treated as more important than others. They get more news coverage, they are talked of for several days and innuendos are made about what was likely to be the cause of death. While there are those people whose death go unnoticed, unannounced, people who mattered to some family, a breadwinner, a father, a brother, a mother, a sister and so on. Why do we do this?

On the day of the Boston bombing where 3 people died, a total of 57 or more died in Iraq of bomb related deaths, this didn’t get as much coverage. Have we put a price to those we pay tribute to? Are there lives we consider more important than others?

Why has some death have to occupy the public psyche for so long, that the media bombards us with the goings on of the dead that our lives for sometime becomes, so to speak, living for the dead. Flags are flown at half mast, a day of mourning is declared, speeches written and analysts elbow each other for space to give us their two cents on the issue.

Since, each day so many people die, shouldn’t the flags then all fly at half mast or 3/4 mast all year round to pay tribute to all those who go before us?

I rest my case here!


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

26 thoughts on “Is any death different from the other

  1. Mordanicus says:

    Many people have trouble with understanding my philosophy on this point: people must die; when I tell them this, they think that I am talking about the inevitability death. However I mean that people has a moral duty to die some day.

    By accepting death, people acknowledge that Nature is more powerful than all of humanity.


  2. Mike says:

    Even though it is not directly related to the discussion, I Like How Richard Dawkins talks about death

    My friend you are not the only one who have been wondering about this. Having lived 26 years of my life in a country devastated by political and religious conflicts and bloodsheds, I had the chance to wonder about this almost every day without finding a convincing answer. At the end I think that human death and life has a cost and it depends where you are and who you are. If you are at the strongest part you get noticed, if you are famous (tv, singer) you get noticed, but hundred weak and unknown humans …. They pass unnoticed.


    • makagutu says:

      The video is interesting.
      So the value of people’s lives depend on which part of the globe they are in, the size of their accounts and most likely the size of press that can be purchased.


  3. john zande says:

    For far too long religion has occupied the high ground in all matters of death. A naturalist approach must be articulated, presented, and championed or else this shit is just going to keep on going…


  4. aguywithoutboxers says:

    Excellent manifesto on the inequality of the world, even in death. I agree with your premise and arguments. Too many die needlessly and in the western world, the color of a persons skin often determines the amount of media attention paid at their death. And don’t get me started on the gaudy and expensive rituals surrounding death…Much love, my friend!


    • makagutu says:

      We live in interesting times. There is inequality even in death. Too many people are dying, if we are going to raise flags at half mast because a politician died, I ask we raise the flag at half mast because a peasant died. In this manner at least we begin to realize all lives have value.


  5. It’s a give-a-damn problem. I tried to explain it here:


  6. Arkenaten says:

    The type of response depends on the type of death; how immune or desensitized we have become to it.
    I am not , of course, referring to natural death, but rather death in a motor accident, for instance.
    If I were to tell you the death tolls DAILY on SA roads it would make you quail.
    But when we hear the oft told ‘news’ that a fully laden mini bus taxi or bus smashed into oncoming traffic or went over an embankment and 10 20 30 lives were lost, we hardly react.

    People expect motor car deaths…not themselves, obviously.
    Hearing of such things is so common it is considered ‘Olds’
    Bomb blasts in Iran killing 15 is ‘Olds’
    Bomb blast in Boston, killing 3…is so out of kilter it is ‘News’
    And this is why people react in the way they do.


    • makagutu says:

      Makes sense. I think this must be the reason bomb blasts in Mogadishu hardly ever pass as news. Talking about road fatalities, I think they happen almost daily on some road in Kenya such that those deaths only get mentioned in passing.


  7. I think there might be another way of looking at this. The death of famous people or people from history could be a way to express (as it were) our own feelings. As in a lament:

    I endured the sight of the Hektor’s death by dragging from a chariot,
    and of Ilium piteously burning.
    I myself embarked on an Argive ship as a slave,
    dragged by my hair. And when I arrived in
    Phthia, I became the bride of Hektor’s killers.
    How, then, is life sweet for me? Where can I look?
    To my present or my past fortunes?
    I had one child left to me, the light of my life,
    and those to whom these things seem best intend to kill him.

    (Euripides, Andromache)

    Excuse me for quoting at length, but I would like to put this forward to illustrate the suffering of countless anonymous women in wars, since antiquity. We might not know their names, but something like this can help us remember.


    • makagutu says:

      I remember watching Troy and hear the father of Hector talk about watching his son being dragged by Achilles and one feels the pain he felt.
      You need not apologise for quoting in length, that verse is poetic and powerful a way to express pain!


  8. I find that a very interesting post. It was a source of interest to me too that the three deaths in Boston (and I mean no disrespect to anyone involved either) were added to by another 48 deaths that same day by shootings in the US, by I don’t know how many deaths in Iraq, by I don’t know how many children dying of malnutrition…. Perhaps, as someone else above comments, we are becoming inured to these deaths. Perhaps we are only really touched by deaths near to us…..


    • makagutu says:

      I think we are touched by deaths near to us. It occurs everyday, every passing moment. And for some it is to get political capital, some to pass some agenda and so much more.


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