Consenting to die

Thoughts on consenting to die.

Do not go gentle into that good night;

Old age should burn and rave against the close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

These lines are from a famous poem, but Dylan Thomas is wrong.  Simone Weil gives us some of the reasons.  For Weil, heaven and hell are essentially the same. Both are a cover for nothingness. We come from the void and we return to the void. Heaven is the nothingness of consent to the void.  Hell is the refusal to accept nothingness as the destiny of the soul. The only difference is whether we accept or refuse this nothingness. In consenting to die, we share in the transcendent value of God (McCullough, p 188).  Why?  Because we no longer belong to a world in which the self and its desires come first.  Or as Weil put it, “The self is only the shadow of sin and error cast by stopping the light of God, and I take this shadow for a being.” (GG, p35)  

When I consent to die, I thank God for my existence, the tremendous, miraculous fact and privilege of existing.  I did not have to be; nothing that exists had to be.  My existence on this earth is a gift beyond measure.  But because I live, I must also die.  Not just every living thing, but every thing that exists must die.*  Only the time scale varies, from minutes for some insects, years for human beings, to aeons (a billion years) for the earth itself. 

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