The Hollow Men and the Culture of Death

empty

The culture of death so prevalent in today’s society reflects the emptiness and disillusionment so vividly expressed in The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot. This famous poem depicts a world of “stuffed men” who do not fully live life, who go through routine motions awaiting “death’s twilight kingdom.”

The lack of hope in today’s secular culture is evidenced by broken or non-existent family life and relationships, a breakdown of manners and common courtesy in social interaction, and indulgence in lavish lifestyles, sex, food, and media as ways to escape the emptiness.

As a result of this pleasure-seeking mentality, there is also a systematic effort to suppress and eliminate the weaker, more vulnerable members of society who present inconveniences to others and are seen as burdens. Legislative efforts to loosen or abandon restrictions on assisted suicide, euthanasia, and abortion are a direct result of the mindset that encourages us to eliminate people who are inconvenient or unwanted in our pursuit of pleasure. The result? “Hollow men” trying to keep themselves entertained on the death march.

The poem’s vivid imagery likens the world of hollow men to “a valley of dying stars.” Today’s dying stars are the unique lives which are unappreciated and disregarded by those who see them as useless. Parents are encouraged to terminate “unhealthy” unborn life. If the “unhealthy” are already present in the world, they are given the option to terminate their own lives so they won’t be a burden to others.

But eliminating the weak and defenseless will not lead to more happiness and convenience; it will only lead to increased fear and less freedom. When one category of human beings, such as the unborn, the elderly, or the sick are targeted for elimination, what is to prevent other human lives from being considered less valuable or worthy of protection? By what standard is this decided? The elimination and disregard of the weak and defenseless only puts pressure on the “healthy” to work harder to prove that their life has worth so they too, will not be marked for elimination.

Pope Benedict XVI writes in his 2007 encyclical Spe Salvi(Saved in Hope): “A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and bear it inwardly through ‘compassion’ is a cruel and inhuman society” (#38). The ability to accept those who suffer, those who are weaker and more vulnerable, makes us more human. Christ himself demonstrated this nobility of heart in his treatment of the sick and rejected members of society.

With Christ, we are no longer hollow and empty; we are instead a people of hope, and therefore a people of life. We must not sit by idly as the “hollow men” systematically create a culture hostile to life at its most vulnerable stages. We must strive every day to counter these efforts by witnessing to the dignity and value of each person.

The Hollow Men by T S Eliot

Mistah Kurtz-he dead
A penny for the Old Guy

I

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us-if at all-not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

II

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer-

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

III

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

IV

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

V

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

http://www.lifenews.com/2011/10/03/abortion-the-hollow-men-and-the-culture-of-death/

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