Wednesday, 3 November 2010

"Intimate Death," and politicians.

Very many thanks to Rupert Callender for recommending to me "Intimate Death," by Marie de Hennezel. It's just arrived, and I haven't read it yet. It looks, at a flip-through, profound, enlightening and inspiring.

What I want to do now is draw attention to the Foreword. Here's how it starts:

"How do we learn to die?
We live in a world that panics at this question and turns away. Other civilizations before ours looked squarely at death. They mapped the passage for both the community and the individual. They infused the fulfillment of destiny with a richness of meaning. Never perhaps have our relations with death been as barren as they are in this modern spiritual desert, in which our rush to a mere existence carries us past all sense of mystery. We do not even know that we are parching the essence of life of one of its wellsprings.
This book is a lesson in living..."

Guess who wrote that? Not Charles of Good Funeral Guide fame, not Jonathan, or Rupert, or... not a priest, or a psychologist, or a therapist.

Would you think - politician?

It was Francois Mitterand, recently President of the Republic of France, 1981 - 1995. When he wrote the foreword, he knew, but few others did, that he was suffering from the cancer that ended his life in 1996

Now, he was a controversial figure, no mistake. But I wonder if any of our political leaders might have risen so well to the challenge, and found some eloquence outside the field of politics.

Blair was a controversial figure too. Here's my stab at his foreword:

"Hi. OK, now look. You know I'm an honest sort of guy, so I won't pull the wool over your eyes. The thing is, none of us are immortal. Yup, I know it's tough, but - life ends in death, right? We're doing what we can about this, but hey, you can do something too. I have. I've become a secret Catholic..."

OK, juvenile, I know. But he's a highly intelligent man, and his public rhetoric was often astonishingly banal, patronising even. And I won't even drag Lady "rejoice" Thatcher into the fray, that'd be unkind. She's not a well woman.

Any offers on profound words from our leaders outside the sphere of social policy and political categories, beyond the slogans and the sound-bites?

1 comment:

  1. So - no offers, huh? Well, predictable but a shame...