Don’t lose touch with reality

Staff Editorial

Last week, 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult apparently committed mass suicide in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
The first reaction for many people is one of outrage. The second reaction is to distance themselves from the suicides and say how thoughtless it was for anyone to do such a thing.
After all, who would throw away their lives, the only ones they get?
It’s easy to group these cult members together by association and to fail to look at them as real people. It’s easy to blame them for their apparent stupidity and to shake your head and wonder what was going on in their minds.
But it’s not as easy to look at these seemingly faceless people for who they really were, and to realize how lucky we all are to not have the problems they had.
In a news release prepared by Heaven’s Gate members before the mass suicide, the group said, “No one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven by trying to live a good life in this world, and then, thinking that when this world’s life takes your body, you get to ‘go to Heaven.'”
Hmmm. Instead of snorting at this, consider what these people may have faced. What were their backgrounds? What were the families like? What did they have outside the cult going for them?
We don’t really know. In the weeks to come, we’ll probably learn more about these people. In fact, some people will probably learn more than they want to know.
But one fact is undeniable: People have problems.
Real problems.
Problems that are hard to just get over. All too often, we become so self-absorbed that we fail to see that we don’t have it all that bad. We’re college students, people who attend universities to gain a higher education, a level many people don’t even have a chance to attain, no matter how hard they try. All of us have difficulties, some more severe than others. Some students here support themselves, others have Mom and Dad paying their bills, and others have families to support on top of putting themselves through college.
But compared to some, life isn’t all that bad at college. Believe it or not, as much as you might try to forget this, there are people we share this planet with who don’t have anywhere to live, anything to eat or any family to call their own.
These people exist; believe it. They’re no more unreal than you or me. And there are people who commit mass suicide because their leader tells them he has cancer, and they want to die with him.
And as ridiculous as it sounds, try not to judge these people. Feel sorry for them and remember how lucky you are.