Wednesday, 3 June 2015

[Today] Face issue of death to have a meaningful life

I refer to the letter “Prepare for end-of-life issues early” (June 2), and agree that there is general avoidance of the discussion of death, which implies a dormant fear of the inevitable.
The general population sees it as meaningless to discuss what is fixed. However, it is precisely because it is fixed and universal that talking about it should be easier. In truth, talking about death is avoided because many do not fully accept that it will eventually happen to them one day. There is a compelling need to change this.
To harbour and accommodate this fear, be it by not speaking or thinking about it, and to not face inevitable death directly, is as good as avoiding life. It prevents us from questioning the real meaning of our lives and hence stops us from pursuing meaningful work or improvements for ourselves.
Many of us spend most of our youth and adulthood living in denial of death, chasing outcomes without considering our own inevitable ending.
How wise would these outcomes be? How satisfied would we be with these outcomes? How can we make decisions that matter if we choose to disregard the fundamental nature of our mortality?
The talk about death is not all philosophical; there is pragmatic societal and economic impact. Consider today’s trends in the Singapore economy: Productivity challenges, low work engagement and fickle-minded youth with plenty of job hopping.
Society has evolved. A more affluent lifestyle has created extra bandwidth for the mind to ponder deeper questions and seek deeper meaning besides paying bills and mortgages.
But the design of our societal systems has yet to evolve to accommodate that. Hence, we are seeing the overflowing energy of unfulfilled potential emerge in the form of frustrations, which contribute to the trends cited. It would be wise to face the basic fact of death and start asking so-called philosophical questions through discussion and seeking answers, be it with one’s children, parents, partners and oneself.
If one starts pursuing life while considering the inevitable, meaningful pursuits will be assured. We then open up growth and potential that would surpass any productivity measures in place.