A debate is raging in the comments of the South Dakota War College about the untimely death of actress Anna Nicole Smith yesterday. Some say she "deserved" it from her profligate lifestyle. Others say that is a position that lacks compassion. Below is my posting, coming at Ms Smith's tragic life and death from a Buddhist-inspired position and someone who has had some dealings with addiction through a close family member.
Haven't any of you had an addiction of your own to beat? Or maybe had a friend or loved one that had an addiction? Addictions are not "logical." Addicts are not "logical." Was Anna Nicole an addict? Perhaps. Was she a person who was obviously suffering. Defintitely.
Very strong and good people can have addictions to very bad things. Certainly, will power (and before that, making good choices) helps. But addictions wouldn't be addictions unless they were so hard to beat--psychologically, medically, and spiritually.
The Buddhists call it "dukkha" or suffering. We all suffer and it is through understanding our own suffering that we understand the suffering of others.
In Christianity, we are taught to "hate the sin but love the sinner." Christ taught us to love one another, even those who hate us. It is a simple and powerful message.
Both are essentially the same concept--we are imperfect beings but through love we can reduce the suffering of our fellow man (and woman).
Anna Nicole suffered from something or some things that we may never completely know or understand. She probably even added to her own suffering; most of us do. That does not make her suffering less subject to our appreciation or her death less subject to our sympathy.
I'll bet every one of you who have critized Anna Nicole for her addictions has a loved one who has fought or is fighting drugs, alcohol, over-eating, sex, over-spending, anger, or some other problem that harms their life and the lives of those around them. I hope you show them more compassion than you've shown Anna Nicole.
And guess what, the addiction shoe might be on your foot someday and you will be looking for a friend or family member to show you grace and understanding. That might be the only thing that saves you from the abyss. Perhaps that's all that Anna Nicole needed--someone not to judge her but to truly love her, faults and all.
She wasn't a horrible person. She didn't kill, she didn't go out of her way to hurt people. There was good in her.
May Anna Nicole Smith rest in peace.
May you and all sentient beings be free from suffering.
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