And I am not claiming to understand entirely...I think most of the strange acts we see come from (what I call) crazy beliefs about future lives, and paradises, and rewards in 'heaven', and such like. I don't know anything about possible afterlives, so I just try to live my life here as though I was going through it just the once. To some people that might (of course) license strange behaviour...that's is the Nihilistic response. They seem to need the old Reward/Punishment model. I think that people who need hierarchies and authoritarian models [People of The Book] believe we are inherently 'bad'. I guess my fundamental belief (if I have one at all) is that we are basically 'good' - and that, if left alone, if given the basics to survive, human nature is co-operative, gentle, sharing, etc. Another naive old hippie belief, I suppose. It's not to deny that there are some very twisted people about, nor that some people flourish on aggression, just that those are distortions of our 'true nature'. [Perhaps I do have some sort of religious, non-rational belief after all....]
Anyway, here's one last link - on why self-immolation in protest is NOT 'suicide'...
"The press spoke then of suicide, but in the essence, it is not. It is not even a protest. What the monks said in the letters they left before burning themselves aimed only at alarming, at moving the hearts of the oppressors, and at calling the attention of the world to the suffering endured then by the Vietnamese. To burn oneself by fire is to prove that what one is saying is of the utmost importance…. The Vietnamese monk, by burning himself, says with all his strength and determination that he can endure the greatest of sufferings to protect his people…. To express will by burning oneself, therefore, is not to commit an act of destruction but to perform an act of construction, that is, to suffer and to die for the sake of one’s people. This is not suicide"
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