Why Are People Afraid Of Death?

Death is something that we all have in common. We all know people who have died, and we will all die ourselves. It doesn’t matter what your race, the amount of money or power you have, or what country you come from. We may be able to postpone death, but it will come for us all eventually.

Because of this, death appears quite often in art, literature, movies, and other social platforms. One of the most common reactions to the possibility of death is that of fear. People are scared at the idea of no longer being alive. Not fear regarding a violent or unhappy death, which would obviously be unpleasant and should be avoided, but at the simple fact of no longer being alive.

Should people be afraid? In media, it is also common to point out that life is difficult, and a struggle, and often unfair. It often requires hard work to succeed, and even that doesn’t guarantee anything. Why should anyone fear that coming to an end?

No one seems to think about the time before they were born as being lonely, or with any regret, or sadness. Why should the time after they die be one that should be feared?

What happens when we die is a mystery, although there are no shortage of ideas. Some believe in a spiritual afterlife filled with reward for the just, and punishment for the wicked. Others think we are reincarnated and come back to do it all over again. Some think we simply cease to be, and death is the end of an individual. Or do we come back as ghosts and haunt the living?

That sense of unknown may be what gives rise to fear. We often fear what we don’t know or don’t understand. Maybe some of us like our lives and regret losing out on what we already have. Or maybe the fear comes from imagining the grief experienced by those we leave behind.

What’s your theory? Why are people afraid of death?

Related questions: What happens when we die? What is time? What do we have in common? What beliefs do you have that might be wrong?

What Book Has Had the Biggest Impact on You?

Of the books you have read, which one has meant the most to your life?

Share why if you wish.

Michael’s Answer:  Mine is Wendell Berry’s What Are People For?  This was the first book I read from Berry.  It changed how I saw myself in relation to the environment, the economy, and my love of growing food.

Lee’s Answer: There are lots of possible answers, and on a different day I might have a different selection. Today I’ll choose What It Is by Lynda Barry. The book is part creative guide, part art object, part memoir, and part philosophy text. I found it inspiring, challenging, and unforgettable.

 

Are We Too Busy?

This question is inspired by some of the feedback we got to last week’s question How Can You Help? Several people commented on how busy they are, and how time spent thinking about our questions and/or composing a thoughtful response is time that is taken away from other activities.

This is certainly a valid point. But it brings to mind another question: Why are we so busy? Over the last century or so, a growing number of devices have been introduced into our society that are supposedly “labor-saving” devices, like the electric vacuum cleaner or the automated dishwasher. But as we have access to more and more of these labor-saving devices, what is happening to all the hours the supposedly being saved?

Moreover, the Internet, and our ability to communicate much more easily with people all around the world, has shortened the day. 24-hour news channels have increased the amount of news available to us, while providing less and less time to process and make sense of that information.

But it may be possible to become accustomed to a world swamped with information and expectations. Our brains may be flexible enough to adapt to whatever demands our modern world places upon them.

So which is it? Are we too busy? Or are we just busy enough? Can we handle even more? If we are too busy, what can we do about it?

Related questions: What is time? What are our responsibilities to others? What is important? How have we changed?

What Material Possession Means The Most To You?

Of all the things you own, which one can’t you live without?

Share why if you wish.

Lee’s Answer: my bicycle. It’s transportation, recreation, gym club membership, a social network, and a mediation class all in one, and it allows me to feel like I’m doing my part to reduce my carbon footprint!

Michael’s Answer: my laptop.  Writing/Journaling, viewing my garden and travel photos on my amazing laptop screen, and listening to music are very therapeutic for me.

How Can You Help?

Intellectual Roundtable needs your help.

For more than a year, we have been publishing a new question every Sunday, designed to bring some quiet contemplation to your otherwise busy lives. As time goes on, the number of people visiting the site has been steadily decreasing. Fewer and fewer people are answering the questions, or are even being exposed to them.

We’re looking for ways to reverse this trend, and have more people read the questions, answer them, and interact with others doing the same.

Hence our question: How can you help? You might look through our list of past questions, find one that you like, and answer it. Maybe you can propose a question of your own using our online form. Perhaps you can share the blog on Facebook, via email, or other social media platforms via the icons on each page. Even if you don’t want to contribute to content in any way, you can provide some feedback about what does or doesn’t work for you with what we are doing and how we are doing it.

But there’s a second meaning to the question as well. In your life, there will always be people or causes that you care deeply about. Something may be a passion project for you or for your community. How can you bring attention to a cause, or take actual, concrete steps toward improving or enhancing something you care about? What are the ways you can strengthen bonds between you and loved ones?

How can you help?

Related questions: How can we turn ideas into actions? What are our responsibilities to others? What makes a community? How do you define success?