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Afraid of death? Make impact while alive

There is no doubt many of us fear death. And to avoid thinking about our immortality, we live our lives like there is no tomorrow.

We eat and make merry, giving little thought to the next moment. We walk with our heads held high, trampling on lesser beings. We tend to have an air of permanency around us, in denial that sooner or later, it will be over, forever.

We do not pause momentarily to think of the day that the curtains will fall on our act. The eventuality of death shocks us to the core, which is the reason why we have become an intensely selfish society.

But there are cultures and religions that teach their members how to cope, and even live, with death. A perfect example is Islam. For Muslims, death is no big deal. The religion views death, as Christians do, simply as the separation of the soul from the body, and its translocation from the physical to the spiritual.

But what is outstanding about Islam is the religion’s apparent acceptance of the inevitability of death. Muslims are taught how to prepare for death from a very young age in the Madrasas.

According to Islam, a deceased person should be buried as soon as possible after death. Therefore, unlike Christians who drag the mourning period to its logical conclusion, Muslims begin planning for a funeral immediately.

Not that they do not get hurt deeply from the loss of a loved one. They simply realise their turn to go could be within the blinking of an eye. Consequently, the best they can do is to perform their service to humanity as best as they can.

The recent passing on of Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore has sparked debate about death. May be this is expected, given Bob’s high social and corporate profile.

But, do we really need the death of a prominent member of society for us to appreciate the vanity of life? I mean, it is the way of everyone; the high and mighty, and the downtrodden.

Ecclesiastes 1:2-11 gives a succinct summary of life’s reality. “Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, vanity of vanities. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? …There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after”.

The issue is not really the how and the why. Rather, it is the what! What positive impact will we make, not just for our family and friends, but for society as a whole? This is particularly so for those in positions of leadership.

I believe Collymore’s life and death will not be in vain if he genuinely worked for the people’s welfare. He was not in that position because he was the smartest of all applicants for the job.

But as destiny would have it, the gods must have chosen him to bring a revolution of sorts in the mobile telephony sector in this country. Whether the gods are happy with him or not, only time will tell. – The writer is a communication expert, and public policy analyst. [email protected]

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