Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse's Sad, Untimely Passing: A Parallel to Western society?

I am very saddened by the death of the very talented and troubled British singer Amy Winehouse. I am praying for her soul. May she rest in peace.

While she was obviously haunted by self-destructive patterns of behavior, I don't assume she was trying to destroy her life. Like so many, she needed help, and never seemed to have the right people in her life who could give her the help she needed most. Perhaps she rejected the help she most needed. I don't know.

Something about Amy's very sad end makes me think that she was a sort of symbolic microcosm in one person of some segments of Europe's young--desiring to live a passionate life, wanting to contribute something notable, meaningful and beautiful to society, wanting to lift other souls to the potentially rapturous heights of human artistry that can become a reality in music, taking the pains and sorrows of human relationships in a fallen world and somehow redeeming them a little bit by letting the scars seep into the music and become something soulful. And yet, at the same time, experiencing a state of hopelessness, watching one's own life spiral out of control and not knowing how to stop it or what to do about it, perhaps even being somewhat indifferent about trying to arrest the descent. This, it seems to me from a distance, is what some of the youth of Europe are living. It's a very dangerous place to be. And it can be lethal.

In saying this, I do not mean to treat Amy's life only as having value to me as a mere parallel to the troubled young of Europe. She was her own, unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable, beautiful person. As is true of every human being, there is no one else like her--she was her own particular universe of value and meaning within herself and ought not be reduced by the shallow pundits of society to simply an occasion to try to say something that gets a few seconds of attention.

So, please say a prayer for Amy Winehouse, for the repose of her soul. And say a prayer as well, for the many troubled youth of today who struggle between the tension of wanting to live in the throes of passion, meaning, and love, and can't catch hold of how to do this, becoming trapped instead in an increasingly harmful life which they know on some level is pointed toward death, yet they stay there for lack of hope of finding a path which could take them toward that deeper passion, meaning and love which their hearts yearn to possess. And since they have lost hope for finding this path, they prefer the passions of a destructive life pointed toward death--at least it seems to be a life that is human in the sense of not being banal, even if hope of something fully worthy of the dignity of the human person has been lost.

In some way, this earlier post of mine seems relevant. When we try to encourage someone we love to alter a destructive pattern in his life, can we also truly be a wellspring of real compassion, can we truly suffer with him (or her) as he calls upon the grace he needs, without which he will be unable to shift the course of his life from aiming at death to aiming at life?

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