The danger of suicide lies in logic, not in imagination
“Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.” ~ G. K. Chesterton
“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.” ~ Albert Camus
The sportswriter who blogged his suicide
August 25, 2013
“Martin Manley hated waking up early, but on his 60th birthday he did — or more likely, never went to sleep the night before.
“At 5 a.m. he entered a police station parking lot in a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas, walked to a spot beneath a tree on its far south end and pulled out his phone.
“He dialed 911.
“He said this:
“I want to report a suicide at the south end of the parking lot of the Overland Park Police Station at 123rd and Metcalf.”
“Then, the blogger and former sports reporter for the Kansas City Star pulled out his Saturday Night Special, a .380 pistol, and shot himself in the head.
“The statistics — Manley loved statistics; his “efficiency index” is still used by the NBA to rate players — tell us that about 150 other Americans committed suicide that day, that somewhere around 38,000 of them will do so this year.
“But chances are none of those people provided the world such a detailed picture of the event, the when, where, why and how of it. Because for more than a year, Manley had been secretly building a sweeping, intricate website that meticulously explained just that. He set it to publish later on the day he died.”
Source: The sportswriter who blogged his suicide – http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/23/tech/web/martin-manley-suicide-website/index.html
The danger of suicide lies in logic, not in imagination.
Many people who conclude their lives are no longer worth living often — all too often –make a very logical decision: to end their own lives. Suicide is very rational; even too rational. Perhaps this all-too-logical decision to end one’s own life is a form of madness. The sort of perfection-seeking, perfection-driven, and maddening logic Chesterton tells us can drive mathematicians and chess players — but not poets — insane.
After I read the above article, about the late Martin Manley, who loved statistics, sports, and who decided to take his own life and blog about it, I went immediately to the blog he had left behind.
The quote from Chesterton came to mind when I saw he loved statistics, and when I perused his “sweeping, intricate website”, which he left behind, I saw that he was indeed a most logical fellow. To a fault, I would say. To a self-inflicted and deadly fault.
Did I mention he left his “sweeping, intricate website” behind?
I should point out, too, that he left everything behind…
“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” ~ Job (Job 1:21 (KJV)
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content”. ~ Saint Paul (1 Timothy 6:6-8 (KJV)
When I perused the late Martin Manley’s “sweeping, intricate website” I discovered a man who, due to his pride, his logical nature, and his love of perfection, could not cope with the messiness of life; especially the likely future prospect of his having the messy life of a senior citizen, which he was soon to become, having taken his own life on his sixtieth (60th) birthday, which, to his logical mind, solved this messy problem; once and for all.
Generally speaking, I think poets and writers are more adaptable to the exigencies of life, whereas statisticians and mathematicians are not. People who are driven by logic are predisposed to a logic-driven madness because they seek order and perfection in a chaotic and imperfect world populated by chaotic and imperfect people. Perhaps it’s a sense — a realization — of their own imperfection, and of their own inability both to repress and to express their emotions, that drives some people to make the very logical — although very foolish – decision: “Suicide is my only option.”
In a world full of wonders, peoples, and possibilities… what could make someone conclude they had one — and only one — choice, which is suicide?
There is only one reason: they have no hope.
Wonders, peoples, and possibilities are for others, they think, and not for them. They are without hope. No good things can ever come to them again, and it is foolish, to them, to continue on, because things will only grow worse, for them, over time, not better.
As I said, above, suicide is foolish; but people do have a reason for committing it: hopelessness.
The glass is half empty, and will only become emptier, as time goes by, they think.
As someone who studies, and who enjoys studying, theology and the Bible, I have found very few theologians, Bible scholars, and Christians who realize the following:
“We are saved by hope.”
Theologians, Bible scholars, and Christians are well aware that we are saved by grace and that we are saved by faith, but one never hears them say we are saved by hope, although the Bible says we are:
“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” ~ Saint Paul (Romans 8:24-25 (KJV)
Hope, as Saint Paul tells us, is something we wait on with patience. Hope, Saint Paul tells us, is something we do not see, because if we saw it, Saint Paul asks, why would we hope for it?
In context, Saint Paul is writing to the church at Rome concerning the resurrection; both of the body and of the world. Although theologians, Bible scholars, and Christians will happily discuss the resurrection of the body, and the resurrection of Christ, they will hardly ever discuss what Saint Paul tells us, here, about the resurrection of the world:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” ~ Saint Paul (Romans 8:18-25 (ESV)
When Saint Paul says: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” what, exactly, is he talking about?
A hope not yet realized.
A hope we have in the midst of the sufferings and exigencies of life.
A hope that gives us the strength we need to endure the pains of today in order to enjoy the pleasures of tomorrow.
And this “tomorrow” means: when the newly resurrected, reborn, and perfect world has come, and not until.
Until that new world comes, we will suffer… just as Jesus suffered:
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
“Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” (Hebrews 2:9-12 (KJV)
And, like Jesus, who suffered, died, and rose again, so too we who believe in him — and the world itself — will suffer, die, and rise…
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Saint Paul (1 Corinthians 15:50-57 (KJV)
Theologians, Bible scholars, philosophers, and some Christians often ask: “Can God create a perfect world? And if he can, then why didn’t he?”
This question is easily answered, although oceans of ink have been spilled over the centuries pondering this seemingly perplexing question. The simple, biblical answer is: “God is creating a perfect world. He’s simply not finished with it yet.”
Although one might be tempted to say: “It takes faith to believe that” the truth of the matter is “It takes hope to believe that.”
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” ~ Saint Paul (Titus 2:11-14 (KJV)
If one were to believe that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all peoples… that we should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts… that we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world looking for that blessed hope, and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us… and that we should live our lives doing good works for others… I should think the thought of suicide would never cross one’s mind.
Hope, a life filled with good works done for others, and the desire to become more Christlike makes for a very busy, a very happy, and a very hope-filled life.
The late Martin Manley — whose maddening logic drove him to commit suicide — took his own life because he didn’t want to become elderly, he didn’t want to become a burden to others as he aged, and because he was unsure of what the future held; except that he “knew” the future would be bad, for him, because he was single, lonely, and fast becoming an old man.
I hope you realize Martin didn’t need to commit suicide. He only needed to have hope.
And not just hope in the new world to come, but hope also in this world… however imperfect it is, and however imperfect the people are who are in it.
Pride makes us desire to be always self-sufficient, to be always able to care for ourselves, to never want to become a burden to others.
Humility teaches us that it’s okay, especially as we grow old, to not always be self-sufficient and to not always be able to care for ourselves. The mistake pride makes is to label this lack of self-sufficiency: “a burden to others”. It is, in fact, no such thing.
We come into the world naked and we leave the world naked, and we often leave it as helpless as we were when we entered it: like a baby, who is not self-sufficient. And there is no shame in being what we are — whether a helpless child or helpless adult — if and when we become a helpless adult, due to the sufferings and exigencies of life.
I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure, that had the late Martin Manley made known his concerns, worries, and fears regarding his future to those around him, someone, even a few someones, would have stepped up to the plate, to use a sports analogy, and assured him that he would never be alone in facing his concerns, worries, and fears, because his friends and his family would always be there to support him as he aged.
No matter how messy life might, eventually, become for him and for them.
Of course this is no longer an option for the late Martin Manley, because he is dead. He having solved his “problem” of his growing old by himself. He not wanting to bother and to burden others.
A bullet into his brain solved his problem, for him. The maddening logic of suicide.
It was quick, painless, and done with a logic as cold as the steel barrel of his pistol, which was probably the last thing he felt.
How sad, because there‘s no telling what he might have felt in the future. Who knows? Can you imagine?
The touch of a friend’s hand? The kiss of a lover? Her dog’s tongue licking his face?
But the late Martin Manley had his maddeningly logical mind made up: pride and logic dictated his suicidal course of action. He saw no other options. He had no imagination.
The danger of suicide lies in logic, not in imagination.
And all that’s left of him now is his “sweeping, intricate website”, which I hope you will peruse, as I did. I found it very enlightening, and very sad, too. But overall I found it very logical, and very prideful. And reading it made me wish I could talk with him, which is something he’s now made impossible for me to do, thanks to the maddening logic of suicide.
See: The late Martin Manley’s “sweeping, intricate website”.