Monday, August 11, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

Robin Williams
I've read the unfortunate news that comedian Robin Williams has committed suicide at the age of 63. I generally don't pay much attention to the deaths of celebrities, much less self-inflicted deaths. But Robin Williams was a one-of-a-kind celebrity; a comedian of a caliber that the likes of Bob Hope belongs to. Robin Williams was not a great man. Most of us aren't. And his political opinions were awful. His religious views weren't much better.

But he was funny. Really funny. I'm not even counting his off-color stuff. He just basically knew what makes people laugh, and of all the actors out there it is the ones that can do and say things off the cuff to get that precious laugh that I respect the most. Robin Williams was a master at making people laugh.

Impersonating Robin Williams is a thing. That is considered a skill. That is how difficult it is to just be like him, much less be as funny as he was. But, I am not writing this because I thought he was funny. I am not writing this because I even liked him. I am writing this because he committed suicide. 

He did it, presumably, because he was depressed. Depression is a real thing, but it is really a condition of figuring out what we don't have, and think we can never have. True happiness. Inner happiness. A type of happiness that transcends the mortal experience. Think about it. He had "everything". And yet, he had nothing. 

Our mortal experience tells us that, to be happy, we must have food, clothing, shelter, and the ability to procreate. That is what science tells us. The rich, the celebrity, the successful have all of these things in abundance. And yet some of them still are depressed. Still end their lives, which goes against human psychology in every way.

A cynical view would say that a successful person like Williams would reach that conclusion because they are so driven, that they do not accept what success they have. A realist would look at this and realize that Williams was never truly happy. I think the latter is the truth.

There comes a time in every person's life where we measure ourselves up. A midlife crises, they call it, but it doesn't necessarily happen at mid-life. There comes a time that we figure out we are missing the point. We've "lost the plot" as it were. 

Without a strong faith, or without loving family, we can easily descend into the madness of depression. And that can lead to the logical conclusion of ending it all.

It is logical. It doesn't seem so from a biological standpoint. But from an emotional one, it does, easily. If one's object is A, and one's outcome is B, and A is no longer attainable, then it is game over. Logic says it is easier to end the game. 

That is how suicide is possible. But the dissonance in thinking here is that A is not attainable. "A" is spiritual happiness. And that starts with an acceptance that such a thing is possible. That we have a spirit. A soul. That it is not of matter or energy, but of something outside of nature. That it was created, specifically for us. And without that realization, suicide is perfectly reasonable.

With that realization, suicide is perfectly mad. Williams didn't know that or understand that. He didn't have family support to help him come to those conclusions. His family was more interested in fad spirituality that didn't make those connections. And so he followed the logical course in a secular way. If A is no longer attainable, then B.

I am not Catholic, but I hope there is a Purgatory. Because Robin Williams brought too much joy to the world to be a total loss.


  1. Keln: I don't believe in Purgatory, but I do believe in Paradise, which comes after death but before Judgement. It's a real place: I've been there. You don't have to be perfect to get there. You just have to be a good person and willing to accept the Gospel There is more learning to be done in the life after this.

    You're not entirely accurate about depression, though. It has a strong biological component. It's not just a question of adjusting your attitude. It can be crippling or even, yes, fatal.

    But as far as suicide goes, I believe that it is a sin, but that God will take into account the mind and circumstances of the person in question. His infinite Mercy and Grace would lead us to expect no less.

  2. Whenever celebrities hurt themselves, it reminds us that they are real people after all, or may secretly make us feel insecure if we were a teeny bit proud.