Does any man's death really diminish us as individuals?

The highlighted line has been referred to repeatedly in the Pit thread about Justice Scalia’s death, but is it always true? I can see it having some vague, hippy validity when said about a child in a war-torn land starving when food is kept from her by the fighting, but does it still work when a nasty old man dies in his sleep in the lap of luxury? Or a different nasty old man who caused the deaths of thousands of innocents is shot down like a dog in his bedroom? Or a nasty young man gets killed while trying to prevent an aid convoy from reaching that little girl? These seem like wins, not losses.

As a counter-quote I will turn to a lesser poet, R Dean Taylor, who said, “If a man ever needed dying, he did.” Personally, while I’d prefer that Scalia had retired and spent his declining years in the bosom of his family rather than stinking up the Supreme Court, he chose the only alternative his beliefs would allow. I shed no tears over his death, only wishing it had happened years ago, and I know this shows me to be less nice than I could be, but if his death improves the lives of people I know and like, how else does it diminish me?

Of course not. It’s just something sanctimonious assholes enjoy saying when they want to signal to the world just how virtuous they are. No-one really believes it.

I don’t know anything about Scalia, but as a general principle, the notion that any man’s death diminishes us all as individuals is pure drivel.

Seconded. Most death’s don’t affect us as individuals in the least. People die every day. All of us die. And some deaths even elevate us.

This is bumper sticker nonsense that is used to demonstrate some sort of moral superiority.

The Left/ Progressives are so angry that it genuinely frightens me. One of the great things about the Christian religion is that we are urged to forgive and be humble. “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.” But the Left/ Progressives take every course of action and opinion by the Right and twists it into an an act of unforgivable evil. Living angry is no way to live.

Uh . . . Trump?

[pedantic early-modern lit scholar nitpick]

That Donne passage should really be printed without the line breaks and capital letters, since it’s from a prose devotional treatise, not a poem. (Seventeenth-century poets didn’t do free verse.) Full context here. It’s also written from a very particular theological perspective, so there’s no particular reason why anyone who doesn’t share Donne’s religious beliefs should necessarily embrace the sentiments.

[/pedantic early-modern lit scholar nitpick]

(That said, I went to college with one of Scalia’s kids – we weren’t particularly close and I haven’t been in touch with him since graduation, but we were certainly friends-of-friends – and I’m finding the flood of over-the-top celebratory posts on my Facebook feed hard to take, because my first thought was that whatever else he may have been and done, there are nine people out there who just lost their father. OTOH, I’m not about to argue with any of them either, especially if they’re gay or otherwise personally affected by his views. I don’t know. It’s all terribly complicated and interconnected, and I suppose in that sense, Donne does have something important to say to us modern secular folk. At any rate, whether you agree with him or not, it is assuredly not merely “bumper sticker nonsense.”)

Agreed. Nonsensical, sanctimonious drivel. There are millions of people the world could do without: terrorists, racists, criminals, etc all add nothing but hatred and violence to the world. Their diversity of opinions and beliefs does not make us richer… It’s more like a lead weight that holds us all back from making real progress.

Even setting aside the violent people, there are huge swaths of land occupied by uneducated and impoverished nobodies who do nothing but suck up resources the rest of us will require sooner or later.

Change “left/progressives” to “right/conservatives” and you have a lovely description of Justice Scalia. But our, his and mine, anger with each other comes from a common source, our difference in beliefs. And the difference is that he had the power to affect the country, and I believe in a deeply hate-filled, negative way. He did not love his fellow man unconditionally, either, and could hate from a position of power. Hatred requires far more energy than I’m willing to give it, and lacking any power I am stuck saying, “I am not displeased that a person who affected me and my loved ones negatively is no longer able to,” on a messageboard.

Are the air traffic controllers at O’Hare routing planes lower?

Small world. My son was a classmate of Scalia’s grandson for number of years. Perhaps the child of your classmate? My son describes him as an unapologetic asshole. Perhaps the family name, Scalia, is just cursed.

My classmate was Chris, who I think is either the youngest or second-to-youngest; I’d be surprised if he has a child old enough to have been in school for a number of years, but I guess you never know.

No. Death is essential for life.

As dead bodies are buried, so are outdated, unenlightened beliefs.
Wealth can be finally transferred to the young.
Employment opportunities open up for those who have been waiting in the wings.

Without death, there can be no change.

John Donne was a sophisticated thinker and it would be facile of us to take any of his lines ad litteram.

I for one feel unhappy with any suffering and injustice my fellow humans go through. For contemporary humanists, “the ultimate goal is human flourishing; making life better for all humans, and as the most conscious species, also promoting concern for the welfare of other sentient beings and the planet as a whole.” I’m not sure whether John Dunne meant the same thing, but if I chose to ignore the suffering or injustice that my fellow humans go through, I would feel diminished as a humanist.

Agreed. This whole honor the dead no matter what bullshit is a bow to medieval superstitions. If you were an asshole while you were alive, I’m not going to mourn you.

Nicely said.

A nice but impractical sentiment.

It’s absolute nonsense, every person dies. There is undoubtedly someone dropping dead as I type this post. When something happens 100% of the time, that’s hardly noteworthy.

No, it’s a time to put things in perspective. Ever see two aged athletes get together and reminisce about their past battles? It seemed so important at the time yet now it’s a faded memory. Perhaps, one could at least acknowledge someone who had reverence for the Constitution.

Would have been funnier. Just sayin’. :wink:

Are you kidding? The SCOTUS is not a damn game. Athletes do not actively make the lives of millions on people worse through their efforts at defeating their rivals. Scalia did exactly that. There is no way it’s appropriate to look back at the damage he did and say “Heck of a competitor, guy had game”.

But what does that have to do with Scalia?