“Why does everyone suddenly love someone if they die young?”


So asked a GCSE student during a lesson last week. We were talking about JFK at the time – a largely unpopular President whom everyone pretended to have voted for and supported following his tragic assassination at the hands of killers unknown (ooh, controversial!) – but I’m sure he was also thinking of reality TV star Jade Goody, recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. The transformation of this young woman in the eyes of the press has truly been astonishing to behold. No longer the racist; no longer the shamelessly talent-free ‘reality TV’ attention-seeker, ridiculed for her lack of intelligence or obscene antics… Now she is ‘Brave Jade’, ‘Jade the Hero’. Why? Because she is about to die. Neither is she alone in this metamorphosis. Her fiancé – the convicted criminal who cheated on her – is now her knight in shining armour, giving her the fairy-tale wedding she ‘deserves’; whilst her friends and bridesmaids are ‘angels’, at least according to the front page of the Mirror.


Now let’s get this straight. I am not lacking compassion. I was as shocked and saddened as anyone else vaguely acquainted with Jade through the media when I heard that this young woman was set to leave her children motherless. It reminds us that death is an aberration; that death is a curse… But it will happen to all of us – every one (Second Coming notwithstanding!). So the question IS valid – why do we deify those afflicted early? Why do they get painted in these fairytale colours we all know to be absurd? Well the answer I came up with in class was imperfect, but I was still pleased enough with it to come home and write about it! It ran roughly as follows.


Despite how it may seem, most people are NOT atheists. Most people are agnostic or are uncommitted theists of various degrees, actively choosing, under usual circumstances, to not think about the things that really matter. Death terrifies the world as it forces them to confront big possibilities they’ve been running from – possibilities like judgement and punishment, perhaps on an eternal scale. This is, frankly, too much. Hell is unthinkably frightening. Not just for Jade, but for everyone. Therefore, the whitewash begins. In a matter of months or weeks, the tabloids, as one, will be writing of how Jade is ‘in heaven’, ‘looking down’ upon her children. In order for this to work, they first need to wipe her slate clean – purge her of her sins and ‘fit her for Heaven, to live with Thee there’, to quote a popular carol! Man is trying to take the place of God once again.


I’m not sure there’s a great deal more to say here, other than to state the obvious: Jade needs to place her faith in Jesus if she is to meaningfully assuage, in any way, the fear she must be experiencing right now. As for the tabloid audience – they need to realise that death doesn’t make someone a ‘hero’… they should realise we’re all destined for that same path, and try therefore to work out honestly how to prepare for the possibility that they will one day face their creator. They will, I’m sure, feel far from heroic once the day arrives.   


1 comment so far

  1. Charlie on

    excellent post woody.

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