“To Be, or Not to Be?” Courage gives one answer.. Lack of it gives another, by Ray Zwarich

Dear All:

Life is Desire. Life is so full of constant human suffering that one cannot stay alive unless one ‘wants to’ VERY badly.

This morning I read a group discussion on a leftist forum discussing the tragic suicide, ten years ago yesterday, of brilliant young computer programming genius, Aaron Swartz. This discussion was led by a man named Maximillian Alvarez, who is Editor-in-Chief of The Real News Network.

As all can see in the very title of the article, ‘The Government Killed Aaron Swartz’, the central premise of this discussion is that some other party is responsible for this young man’s OWN choice.

I call ‘bullshit’. This is yet another expression of the ‘cult of cherished victimhood’ that animates the entire ‘woke left’. The Government did NOT kill Aaron Swartz. He killed himself of his OWN free will.

Do these ‘woke’ people NEVER accept responsibility for their OWN actions?

Copied below is the comment I attached to this article. The reasons that this young man killed himself are no doubt complex, but clearly he did not WANT to stay alive badly enough to face life’s tribulations.

Life is Desire, and the tragic young Mr. Swartz was clearly somehow lacking. He was a ‘bad boy’ in his chosen profession, enjoying the fame and accolades that came with his daring the powers-that-be to spank him for his misbehavior, then lacking the courage to bear up when they did.

He apparently enjoyed ‘doing the crime’, but then lacked the courage to ‘do the time’. Good thing for us that people like Julian Assange, or Nelson Mandela, are, and were braver.

Simius C



“To Be, or Not to Be?”

Courage gives one answer.. Lack of it gives another..

There is always ambivalence when regarding suicide. When I was 17, I came home from school and found my mother just barely alive. The ambulance and police came and took her, (she survived), and then left, leaving me standing utterly alone in my front yard. This was (obviously) before the days of proffering ‘grief counselors’, and of giving trophies even to the losers. Children were expected to learn life’s lessons without being coddled. The emotions I felt, standing there alone in my front yard, were complex, but somewhere between the fear and the hopeless despair, was the ANGER.

How could a parent subject her child so?

Castaneda’s brujo friend and mentor, Don Juan, taught him that our death is our constant companion, always riding on our shoulder. Now a father (and grandfather) myself, forced to constantly confront the complete social insanity that now engulfs us all, that now constantly assaults our own sanity with viciously relentless purpose, utter despair is surely always riding on our other shoulder. Which among us is not aware of this ‘constant companion’?

Hope is hard to hold. Our fingers often grow cold and stiff in the cruel Empire’s north winds of lies and constant crazed delusions, and thus our grip on hope often grows weak. Under these current crazed social conditions, we surely are all now forced to regard ‘the abyss’ on a regular basis. “To be, or not to be?”, is a constant question that in these crazy times we surely each must answer most every day.

I recently re-watched the excellent movie from the 80s, ‘The Big Chill’. I hadn’t seen it  since I watched it in an actual theater all those decades ago. But I remembered the speech by the old preacher in the movie’s opening scenes, as people attending his funeral wondered why their dear and brilliant young friend had decided to no longer ‘be’.

“Are we no longer satisfied to simply be a ‘good man’ among our Common Men?”, the old preacher asked in considerable anger?

This is what Hedges recently wrote about so brilliantly. Our ‘sick’ culture, worshipping vapid ‘celebrity’, has been deliberately ‘engineered’ to weaken the courageous Spirits of the Common People. If you’re not a celebrated ‘star’, then you’re a ‘nobody’. If you’re not ‘famous’, then you don’t matter.

Our young people don’t even remember when it WAS a feeling of pride and self-esteem to simply be a ‘good man’, or a ‘good woman’, among the Common People. Every man was a ‘king’, every woman a ‘queen’, every home a ‘castle’. It was a culture that didn’t last very long, but it was a ‘democratic’ culture, in which the humble Common Man and Common Woman truly felt EQUAL to anyone, even the nation’s president.

When Harry and Bess Truman left the White House in 1952, they drove away, down Pennsylvania Avenue, in their own car, ole Harry himself at the wheel, and they drove home, staying in roadside motels along the way, to Independence, Missouri, (my own home when I was born in ’48).

I had a friend and mentor in Kansas City named Thaddeus Bethel, (a homeless man when I knew him in the 80s and early 90s), who was acquainted with President Truman. The then ex-President would go out for walks every morning, his ‘daily constitutional’, down the city-street sidewalks of Independence, as a private citizen, greeting his fellow citizens with pride and self-esteem, which he both projected and expected back from them. He used to have an important job, which he regarded as a responsibility, not as authority or power. Then he walked the city streets as a proud and self-respecting “Common Man among the Common People”.

Thaddeus ran a shoe-shine enterprise on the sidewalk of Independence Avenue, and Mr. Truman often stopped for a chat, and to get his shoes done. Thaddeus had been a paratrooper during ‘the war’. One ankle was injured so badly in a jump into battle that when I knew him, decades later, he could not walk without a cane. (He was so happy when I once gave him a ‘fancy’ ivory-knobbed cane as a gift, but I was worried, remembering what happened when the Russian Captain gave his fancy rifle to his ‘Gol friend, Dersu Uzala).

Thaddeus always tried to teach me what those chats meant to him. Mr. Truman (Thaddeus called him) regarded his African American shoe shine ‘boy’ as an EQUAL, you see, and vice versa. Their encounters, between shoe shine ‘boy’ and ex-president, were between two equal citizens who regarded each other as such.

Our young people can’t hardly even imagine what it felt to be a ‘citizen’ who truly felt equal to ALL her or his fellow citizens. They can hardly imagine what it felt like to be a Good Man, or Good Woman, among the Common People, in an actual ‘democracy’.

Well… We all surely feel bad over the tragedy of brilliant young Mr. Swartz’s loss of hope. But it takes courage to stay alive. Look at Julian Assange… After years of abject torture, still defiantly alive.

The government killed Mr. Swartz? Oh brother… Give me a break… Do ANY among the ‘woke’ crowd EVER accept responsibility for their own actions? “To be, or not to be?” The government may have tortured him, but Mr. Swartz made his OWN decision. He answered that question for himSELF.

Hope is indeed hard to hold these days. It often takes the true grit of raw courage to rekindle it each day. Ask poor Jules about true grit and raw courage, which Mr. Swartz clearly could not find within himself.

Amidst all the complex feelings I felt, standing alone in my front yard that day so long ago, (1965), watching the ambulance and police car drive off down the street, among the strongest was ANGER.

How could she have done this to her own child?

The government did not kill Mr. Swartz. “To be, or not to be?” Ask Assange how many days, enduring how much torture, he’s answered that question. Mr Swartz killed himSELF. He simply lacked the courage it so often takes to ‘stay alive’. I am sad for the tragedy of his loss, but I’m also PISSED over, and (I’ll admit it) somewhat smugly contemptuous over, his cowardice. Poor tender lad had been insolent enough to ‘do the crime’, but he was not ‘man enough’ to do the time? The class smart aleck is supposed to march with bravado, after all, when he’s sent to the principal’s officer, not whimper and cry like a scared child.

Mandela did what, 25 years in solitary? Then was released to become the ‘father of a new nation’.

Courage is not the lack of fear. It’s the resolve to act in full spite of any fear one faces.

The opposite of courage is cowardice. No?

Poor young Mr. Swartz lacked the courage to hold to hope in the face of despair. He ‘took the easy way’.

I once had a brief acquaintance with old folksinger, Phil Ochs. When I heard he’d hung himself, I felt bad for him, of course, but even more, I felt ANGRY. It wasn’t enough for him to be a Common Man among the Common Men? He always felt a rivalry with Dylan, but of course lacked Dylan’s degree of sheer genius. He occasionally touched it. He wrote ‘Changes‘, after all.

“Sit my my side. Come as close as the air”. Whew! Laugh in wonderment?… Or cry in sheer joy? Even Dylan never wrote a lyric surpassing that. “Share in a memory of grace. Wander in my words, dream about the pictures that I play of ‘changes’ ”

Stupid sum-bitch hung himself. I feel sad. But I am also ANGRY at him.

I weep to think of his lonely despair. But I’m also PISSED about his cowardice! How could he deprive us of so many more years of enjoying the rapture of his creative genius?

“One last cup of wine we will pour. And I’ll kiss you one more time, then leave you on the rolling river shore, of changes”.

‘There But For Fortune’? “Show me the prison, show me the jail, show me the prison man whose face has gone all pale, and I’ll you a young man, and so many reasons why, there but for fortune may go you or I… You or I” Whew! Shades of ole Hank Williams’ great song, ‘Tramp on the Street’. “He was some mother’s darlin’, he was some mother’s son, once he was fair, and once he was young. Mary she rocked him, her little baby to sleep, but they left him to die, like a tramp on the street”.

But in a moment of of utter despair, (from whence may have come?), the dumb sum-bitch hung himself, and took himself away from us who loved him. Dylan got the fame Phil Ochs craved too much. What role did that play when he kicked away the stool? Could Phil Ochs not bear the pain of simply being ‘great’? Did he hate himself because he could not be ‘the greatest’?

Are we not satisfied anymore, with being good people among the Common People?

Mr. Swartz robbed us of his rare genius. Yea… It’s tragic. But who besides me also feels angry when anyone answers that question, “to be, or not to be?”, in a cowardly, selfish way?

He acted like a full grown man in doing the crime. Then whimpered and killed himself when faced with doing the time?

The government did not kill this poor tragic young man. His own cowardice killed him.

Who remembers the poem by Dylan Thomas, (after whom the Great American Bard is said to have named himself), ‘A Refusal to Mourn the Death by Fire of a Child in London‘.

“The majesty and burning of the child’s death.
I shall not murder

Deep with the first dead lies London’s daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.

After the first death, there is no other. other.

Simius C