musings of an afterlife

As I wandered around the National Museum in Beijing, I came across these ancient death suits made of jade and golden thread sometime during the Han Dynasty. Resting my forehead upon their glass enclosures, I thought about our funeral rites today (cremation, burial, etc.) and started wondering if such mundane rites truly lead our souls into the great beyond or if they are simply convenient ways of disposing our bodies and nothing more.

Having turned on the practical side of my brain, I came to the understanding that culture, social status, spirituality and money strongly dictate where our dormant vessels go and how they are dealt with, but what if we are getting the “formula” wrong? What if there are more elaborate and artistic requirements of handling the dead (mummification, ancient rituals, jade masks, etc) than merely stuffing a body into a coffin, adding a touch of rouge, displaying it to friends and relatives, then burning it into ashes and pouring the remains into a receptacle, where it could sit on someone’s shelf and collect dust for eons?

I know. Sounds cynical. But I’m afraid cynical is the feeling people of today have towards the afterlife, where our souls reside until the next stage of existence. If the ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Mayans, Native Americans and multitudes of other cultures prepared bodies for the afterlife as if it were an extension of our physical world, then why shouldn’t we?


Favorite Deep Space Nine Character

Who is your favorite Deep Space Nine character? Some might answer Worf or Dax or even Gul Dukat, but in my opinion, there would have never been 7 unforgettable seasons if Captain Benjamin Sisko hadn’t taken the helm. Not only did his leadership transcend ethnic groups of all intergalactic species, but his integrity became the “self-sealing stem bolt” that kept the space station together.

Sisko’s ability to judge others by their insides (motives) and not their outsides (appearance) was the reason why people not only gravitated towards his charisma, but embraced his resolute stance on social tolerance. It didn’t matter which race, gender, religion or cyborg model you were, just as long as you had coexisted peacefully amongst the community, he would’ve accepted you with open arms. In fact, when lifeforms who possessed dubious reputations walked along the station’s promenade, he never made them feel unwelcome unless they warranted it, just like a true leader should.

Now I understand Captain Sisko is merely a fictional character commanding a fictional space station in a fictional universe, but with the countless examples of “leaders” today, from presidents to pastors to managers at your local bookstore, it’s vital that we don’t lose touch with the essence of good leadership—to give everyone a fair opportunity to live their lives however they choose. To create a safe environment that fosters social tolerance so that people can truly be themselves.

Captain Benjamin Sisko did this, and that is why he is my favorite character, for if he had commanded in an unjust and self-serving manner, memorable characters like Quark, Odo and Garak would never have had an opportunity to shine.

So I’m curious. Who is your favorite character?