The world was thrown into a state of shock when the news of the death of US basketball legend Kobe Bryant broke on Sunday.
The BBC reports that Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were traveling in a private helicopter when it came down and burst into flames.
The helicopter crash which occurred in the city of Calabasas, California killed all nine people on board.
Regardless of how heart wrenching and traumatic this sad event may be for numerous people, its full impact would surely be felt by those who were closest to him – including his wife and other daughters.
However, being a successful and celebrated star means that such tragic death at a young age would garner a lot of media coverage and reflection.
It brings along both nervy shocks and apprehensive pause. Moments like these force us to be confronted with realities such as life’s brevity, frailty and uncertainty. For one can be hugely successful and wealthy, yet stalked by that unwanted foe, death.
The perennially neglected reality remains – both rich and poor, famous and infamous, young and old – are daily gravitating towards their end. But we all tend to ward off this reality by surrounding ourselves with things that help distract us from it. Hence, we’re forcefully jolted by the moments that remind us of death’s reality.
In his 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Denial of Death”, American anthropologist, Ernest Becker, pointed out that we surround ourselves with activities that dislodge us from focusing on it.
He said, “…the idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else.”
Becker further argued that society is constructed to repress our fear of death. Despite its inevitability – in fact, because of its inevitability – we shove it to the back of our minds, until we’re forced to face it.
Therefore, the sudden death of acclaimed stars still in their prime cause us to reconsider this sidelined reality. The statement by C. S. Lewis that pain might be the creator shouting out to us, rings true. “It is [God’s] megaphone to rouse a deaf world,” Lewis said.
As I walked back from church yesterday, I witnessed a little crowd gather at a cemetery to bury someone. Like other thousands who lost their lives yesterday, that didn’t make front page. We are surrounded by death. We can’t push it away.
We might however ask: is that all there is to life? If it is, then maybe we should all eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. But if it’s not, then we should closely consider it, for God might be using it to rouse a deaf world.