“By demanding to end his life, he taught me a little something about my own. He was right when he said The Continuum scared me back into line. I didn’t have his courage or his convictions. He called me irrepressible. This was a man who was truly irrepressible. I only hope I make a worthy student.”
-John de Lancie as Q
In context, this is a pretty liberal stance on suicide. Personally, I agree. We feel like it’s something so taboo and unacceptable that we use it as a scare tactic to keep all of us in line. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the idea. Ending your own life on your own terms is your own right. As someone who has had to be convinced on numerous occasions that it isn’t always the solution instead of a solution, it’s become increasingly difficult to distinguish which is actually which.
However, I find the quote itself has multiple avenues of use. What really stood out is just how far we are willing to actually go to see something through. The idea of actually dying for something isn’t all too appealing to most people, including myself. Being a martyr isn’t exactly on my bucket list of things to do. However, more so than actually dying is the willingness to sacrifice. Sacrifice what… that’s the $125,000 question, isn’t it?
There are a lot of things that we can hold dear to us. Those things ground us. Those things give us our identity. They make us special and unique. Consequently, there are also things that rob us of our identity by making us feel like we’re just part of the status quo.
Change is at the heart of who we are as individuals and as a society. We have to evolve to survive. That isn’t always in line with the majority interest. If the majority interest has no interest in adapting to changing conditions, then the minority will try affect change. That isn’t always easy, either. It’s hard to convince a person or a group of people that doing something different isn’t the end of an era or a threat to alter the core of their being. At the end of the day, being able to make a decision requires some conviction and recognizing the need to do something different. Not everyone can be happy with different. People would rather be unhappy than uncertain.
All of the dramatic leaps forward in terms of how we view ourselves and conceptualize the universe around us have basically come from heretics. The church was big on slowing the progress of science back in the early days. Granted, now that we’re past the point of burning people at the stake for breach of doctrine… well, I’d hope to think that anyway. The point is that there’s just a precipice that we’re not willing to take a step past to make a difference.
I’m not saying that’s going to take someone extraordinary to affect change. Personally, I believe we are all capable of such actions. But, we are fearful of change. We like things the way we have them and don’t pay much attention to new ideas until we particularly don’t have a choice. New ideas threaten our complacency and that complacency makes us comfortable. I don’t know about you but I tend to get fidgety and anxious when I’m not comfortable. Bottom line is that for all of our strife and suffering, we always succumb to that need to be different.
Change is a lot like waking up in the middle of the night. First off, you’re agitated that you’ve woken up for whatever reason. Then, you have to get up and address the problem. Bear in mind that you’re not happy to get up much less move about and take care of whatever that need may have been. Lastly, when you get back in bed, you’re not comfortable anymore so you toss and turn and finally settle back into a position where you feel comfortable.
It doesn’t solve anything; because, for all the work you’ve done and taking action that made you realize something needed to be done, you’ve ultimately made no progress in solving the issue. All you’ve really done is get up to lay back down. I’m guilty of it too, don’t worry. But, I’ve found that change is actually more like being restless at night instead of waking up.
First, you realize that you are restless. Something is bothering you, obviously. Can’t sleep? Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? It’s clear that I need to do something. So, I do whatever it is I have to that alleviates those concerns. I’m already uncomfortable and prior to action, it was clear that I wasn’t going to be. But, I was willing to do something that could lead to fixing my problems. That way, once I was satisfied, I could actually rest.
The real issue isn’t really whether or not we are restless or just responding to pressure. The real issue is if we’re honestly willing to address the problems that we have out of pressure or a real desire for something to be different. Change can’t be bigger than any one person and if it is, the meaning behind it won’t be bigger than them. Meaning, if we change, it has to be for the right reason and because of that reason, those who it affects will be changed by it. There’s a saying, “If your dreams aren’t bigger than you, your dreams aren’t big enough.” I find it to be an accurate aphorism just from my own personal experience. I find it hard to believe that achieving a high level of “success” means more if you did it for yourself. I just think it speaks to your character in some negative way. It can be a good motivator, for sure. But, at the end of it, you’ve earned a reputation for not being trustworthy or a team player, so to speak.
But, some of the most selfish and egotistical people I’ve met have had a knack for speaking truth. Albeit from a convoluted point of view; however, there was a lot of merit in it. Everyone has an ego. Whether or not that ego has been humbled or not is honestly beside the point. But, those who have been humbled have found meaning in both sides. There’s nothing wrong with having an ego. But, if that ego overpowers your sense of humility then it poses a problem. We can’t do anything by ourselves, period. We will always need help. To not believe that would be foolhardy.
Try as we might, though. Who can honestly blame us? We’re conditioned to believe that our individual talent is paramount. We’re trained to maintain individual excellence and we’re educated in such a way that supports the notion that it’s our choice to succeed or fail. Much more in higher education than at a mandatory level. We pass when it’s mandatory because we need that degree. When it comes to higher learning, we have a choice and we have a tendency to pursue the avenues that yield the most success with the least amount of effort. I cannot stress that enough. Truth be told, you see it more and more now. People would rather actively sabotage each other than help each other. It’ll be a hard paradigm to break strictly because it HAS to start with us. It won’t end with us, that’s for sure.
The bottom line really is that we just have to be willing to give up being comfortable and the safety it intrinsically carries. It’s hard, I get that. It isn’t easy being anxious and unsure. Nobody likes being left wondering. I sure as hell don’t. However, there isn’t anything wrong with wondering. There is something wrong with not finding out because of fear and what new circumstances that it may bring about.
As I’ve said before, people would rather be unhappy than uncertain. I think that says a lot about our mentality moving forward through these uncertain times we live in. That’s all it is. We’re so bent on maintaining what we have that what we CAN have isn’t worth giving up. Clearly, there’s dysfunction in that and it shows. I can’t attest to everyone but I’d have yet to meet someone who would be complicit in just damning the risk and taking the chance if what they had was better than what they stood to gain. I don’t blame them. Why risk it? That isn’t the point.
The point is that asking makes you elevate your awareness to see beyond what’s in front of us. The future at the expense of the present is no future at all. You can’t look forward to anything if it’s already here. I think we’re just past that as a species. The grand scheme of things just isn’t worth giving up for the here and now. Especially when it comes down to things that are both immediate and necessary.