Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It's OK to Grieve for Robin Williams

People are sad about Robin Williams' death. I too am sad about Robin Williams.

A friend of mine posted on facebook something to the effect that it's not OK to be sad for a dead entertainer, but you really ought to be be doing something about a lot of the other misery that goes on in the world and be sad for other, bigger, more valid reasons. I'll quote him.

I feel terrible for the family and friends of Robin Williams, as losing loved ones to suicide is awful .(I've experienced it. ) There are however, 18,000 kids who die of hunger each and every day. They may not have lived to be multi-millionaire entertainers, but they had big dreams and big hearts too. Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself over someone you never met, try and make the world a better place while you're alive by donating to causes that make a difference. Trade the energy you put into grieving for one entertainer and think of our men and women in uniform. And lastly, there are thousands of animals that need your help all over the globe. Perspective, perspective, perspective.

He makes a valid point. Putting effort into making "the world a better place" is a good thing. But why should we invalidate what we feel about this person we "never met?" This person we watched for countless hours, who made us laugh, who suffered just like all of us, who lived with the real pain of mental illness just like countless others but managed to use his suffering to make others laugh, to forget for a minute how wretched existence can be. I do not agree that we should put much into grieving for our military - all volunteers - who in this age of easily procured information rain death and destruction around the globe at the behest of a government beholden to Global Capitalism. I definitely feel for them, especially the impoverished ones with little other recourse to financial survival, but while we're at it, we should grieve for their victims as well, who outnumber American casualties exponentially.

Robin Williams' life and death didn't change history, and it pales in comparison to the numbers of people dying of hunger or under the heel of the U.S. military daily, or the decades-long wholesale slaughter of Palestinians by U.S.-armed Israel, or the innumerable women who are victims of domestic violence, whose death rate since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom has far outpaced the number of dead military personel in our Middle Eastern resource wars, or the mounting numbers of young black men and women routinely murdered by our police officers or disproportionately incarcerated, or the escalating threat of Anthropogenic Global Warming, or mass extinctions. But his chosen profession was all about bringing laughter to others. He brought joy to millions of us. He helped us all to suffer a little less. It's O.K. to grieve for Robin Williams' death. We need people like him to help us laugh through the tears. There's already enough sorrow in this world; a world without Robin Williams in it is a world that is worse than it was before.