Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

Today, the old saying dying is easy, comedy is hard, rings false.   Robin William made comedy look effortless, he pumped it out at a speed that would make nascar fans want to slap sponsor stickers all over his tuxedo or rainbow suspenders.   But if part of the price of being famous in the 21st century includes being weighed and measured by the internet after passing, then poor Mork now must deal with the least friendly audience he's ever faced, the unsympathetic, the ignorant and the politically manipulative.  

On the internet today I've seen stupid stuff about suicide. While it is a choice, it is also the result of deep pain that seems insurmountable, and that is the hard reality which should be met by friend and stranger alike with deep sympathy, for him and those who loved him. I've seen stupid stuff about his death being the result of his liberal beliefs which makes my head hurt with the lack of charity and clarity.  Mental illness isn't the result of  political ideology, and suicide isn't something limited to a particular party affiliation.  Worst of all, I saw stupid stuff about his death being the result of prior sins.  Pain begets pain, no question, and prior griefs, prior sufferings, prior hard points in life played a part in the battle with depression Williams apparently faced down for quite some time.   But to armchair quarterback his life with respect to moral choices, is to invite the same for ourselves. No thank you.  This family is grieving in a way we cannot know and pray we never do.  This family has a hole in its heart.  Declaring the deceased's sins, prior demons or political allegiances to be the source of his pain no more than 24 hours after his death shows less tact, grace and charm than the Westboro Baptist Church.  

If I could say something to these very sure of themselves experts who don't know Robin Williams any more than I do, be they Matt Walsh, Rush Limbaugh or Lifesite news it would be "Shut up already."  I say this as someone who reads Catholic blogs all the time, is pro-life, and has voted Republican in every Presidential election since 1984.   I cite the people and sites but won't give the links as I don't want to give traffic to something I think wrong headed. 

Normally I despise the tendency of the media to canonize any celebrity upon his or her untimely death.  But I can say this time, there is some support for the world missing this particular soul.  He didn't just live in his Hollywood bubble.  He worked with the real world.  He did not propose the government solve the world's problems but worked to mitigate the world's problems himself, through his gifts.   He helped create Comic Relief, he spoke and entertained the troops with the USO.  By all accounts, both from the famous and the less so, he employed the homeless and poured everything he had into every project he ever touched. While I didn't always agree with his views, I didn't have to, it wasn't required.  He did make me laugh, and he did good work.   Laughter is universal, laughter is healing.  I'm just sorry all the world's laughter wasn't enough to chase away the darker pains he covered with his wit.  

Why'd I say "Shut up already?"

If we are Catholic, if we are Christian, now is the time to pray for his soul, not analyze it.  If we are Conservative, now is the time to show we have hearts that are not made of stone, that understand this was a person who brought great joy to people the world over for decades.  If we're pro-life, we mourn the loss of any human soul, and we do not view suffering as a karma of our bad choices.  A good man, well loved by his family and friends, who shared what he could do with the world, is gone and we are all poorer for it.

1 comment:

Colleen Duggan said...

Yep, I concur. The opinion pieces are ill timed and in bad taste. Worse, they lack empathy and charity and humility.

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