Thursday, October 27, 2011

Burial Grounds

In some cultures, people are buried. In some, they are left in the cold, clear mountains to be carried away by ice, air and raptors. In others, they get funeral pyres or cremation. Sailors used to be buried at sea.

In many cultures, we honour dead ancestors in their absence. We remember them in stories and images, in spirit and in essence. After all, they are the people whose lives gave birth to ours. I don't know why we want to keep our cemeteries as if they were necropolises though, cities of the dead.

The dead will come to outnumber the living, given finite resources. The world population currently exceeds the combined total of all the dead perhaps up to about 1000 AD. But in a twinkling of an eye, we living will soon be overwhelmed.

The physical spaces some cultures set aside for their dead are not sustainable. Soon, 'ashes to ashes and dust to dust' will have to become the truth, not just a mealy-mouthed platitude uttered at some funerals at which the corpse is to be interred with the hope that the body will last forever.

Some believe that bodies must be intact for the resurrection of the dead — certainly, this belief is as old as Ancient Egypt. I find it hard to believe, however, that a Power which can raise the dead cannot simply reconstitute the bodies from the dust of the cosmos.

And so, we should favour the living over the dead. If a road must pass through the last resting-place of my ancestors, I think they would be amused. No mere road would have served to baulk any intentions of theirs when they were alive.

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