Charleton Heston has passed away.
I have a confession to make.
I don’t care.
Famous person so-and-so, who did this and that, passed away today at the age of whatever.
I don’t care.
The fact of the matter is, people die. They die of natural causes, of accidents, and of foul play. Sometimes they die in the most horrible, painful ways imaginable, and sometimes death is instantaneous. Most often it is somewhere in between. They die as infants, before ever having lived; and they die as ancients, whose lives were long and full. Some die nameless and alone, with none left to mourn the passing. Some die hated, the death a cause for celebration; and some die well-loved, a tragedy that brings heartbreak and ageless pain.
But everybody dies, and that is why I cannot feel anything other than apathy when I hear the news that a famous someone whom I do not know and with whom I have no relationship has succumbed to fate. One stranger’s death has no more relevance to me than another’s–no matter what that person did with his or her life, and no matter how that person died.
I felt nothing when Heath Ledger accidentally killed himself; nothing when Jerry Fallwall breathed his last hateful breath; nothing when Pope John Paul II finally let go of life; and again, nothing when they finally pulled the plug on poor Terry Schiavo. Even Princess Diana’s death meant little to me–I had never liked her petulance–but the quiet, stoic grief of her sons brought me to tears.
Indeed, if I felt anything, it was only annoyance at the gossipy media’s expectation that these deaths should mean something to me. Dread, that I would be inundated with neverending obituaries and eulogies. Sympathy for the grief of the families, friends, and lovers left behind.
But nothing else. The passing means little to me. The life and legacy of the deceased also means little, except perhaps as an intellectual appreciation of his or her achievments, if any–and only depending on the nature of those achievements. The achievements of an entertainer mean nothing to me. The achievements of a religious leader also mean nothing, as well as the legacy of a overpriveleged princess. How does the life and negligible accomplishments of these famous people affect me or my life? So why should I honor them? Why should I mourn their deaths?
Charleton Heston has passed. His hands are cold and dead.
And I don’t care.