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Humpty Dumpty

          We know for a fact that Humpty Dumpty took a great fall. That fateful fall is well established in the literature, and undisputed in scholarly circles. What we don’t know is why. Why would such an egg, with a perhaps daft, yet ebullient dedication to wall-sitting, on that sad day see such morbid results? Why? Could it be that our sorely missed friend, our confident and trusted Humpty was compelled in some dark and unexplored way to make omelets? It can’t be, can it? Suicide, I was told, is a refuge only for the selfish, for the Universe doesn’t give you more than you can handle. That from my friend Brother Skip who is as caring as a Jesuit Priest can be, one who not only hands out hug coupons, but insists every time he sees you that you redeem them, and even so, he scathed on the matter of suicide.  But does the Universe or doesn’t It dish out more than an egg can take? Regardless of the question of whether the Universe (in this case a thinly disguised reference to God) “gives” anyone anything, could it be that Humpty leapt?

          I say yes, it’s possible. The fulcrum on which the suicidal decision rests is hardly exact.  Its not like one ounce of prevention on this side will always offset a kilogram of pain on that side, as Skip suggests. Despair is an overlooked, but serious sin. People who are in despair do experience a state of mind which happy people have no notion of.  The unknown is scary, and scary things should, in a good and just world, be abjured. This is why Despair is the only unforgivable sin: in it we second-guess God. Yet it’s perhaps the one state, should we find ourselves sinking into it, in which we most expect compassion. Instead religious law locks us up and throws away the key. How pusillanimous is that? Sounds like the inherent unfairness of that alone should be enough to count as being dished out more than one can take.

          Of course, suicide is a sin, too, so the despairing suicide is doubly damned. And it isn’t only the religious who condemn the act; many secular laws also criminalize it. But one of the most revered thinkers of antiquity, Seneca (4 B.C. – 65 A.D.), condones suicide. In fact, he recommends it when life becomes impossibly bleak: “To such a life, as you are aware, one should not always cling.  For mere living is not a good, but living well.  Accordingly, the wise man will live as long as he ought, not as long as he can.” It might be instructive to note that Seneca, a contemporary of Jesus, not only condoned suicide, he did it. After a tumultuous life in the corridors of Roman power, where he established himself a reputation as a moralist and as a tutor of the future emperor Nero, and  also gained a few enemies along the way. They denounced him in the end, and he was ordered to commit suicide. No wonder he should write approvingly of the act. Stiff upper lip.

          Perhaps Humpty was a scholar of the ancients. Perhaps he just slipped. But if you ask me, Humpty Dumpty was pushed. I know because I got the tee shirt. Get yours here:*



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