Saturday, 26 December 2009

Martyrdom vs Suicide

The feast of St Stephen for me is a very strong reminder of the delicate balance between martyrdom and suicide. I have often asked myself this question: Is martyrdom about standing for truth or for God? Is it about an idea/concept or a person? Which is greater fidelity: to a principle or a person? I believe, adherence to a principle can always change. For example, a terrorist or a fanatic is convinced about the 'truth' he is willing to die (or kill) for. That is truth for him. On the other hand, placing one's trust in persons too is very deceptive. I know of several people who believed their mentors to be 'gods'. But when they see their 'gods' commit a grievous crime, all their world crumbles before their eyes. Where then, does one place his trust and confidence in? What can one vouch for, even to the extent of valuing it above one's own life? It is when one sees in another person the truth that cannot be denied. It is the willingness to die for that person AND the truth he or she embodies. That is martyrdom. In that sense perhaps even human right activists who suffer and are killed can be called martyrs. They see that human beings are embodiments of values and dignity. As long as they fight for a value and the dignity in a person and are willing to see them as one, life is worth living or giving up!

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