A Common Fate

A Common Fate

Why does a celebrity’s tragedy or death have such an impact on us personally? One recent example is the death of the NBA all-star and MVP Kobe Bryant.

I am not a Los Angeles Lakers fan, nor did I know Kobe Bryant personally. I did respect his career and accomplishments. I did not know the seven others who passed in the helicopter crash with Kobe and his daughter, Gianna, on January 26, 2020 in California. Their great tragedy will continue to be felt most by the members of their families and their closest friends. Our hearts and prayers go out to them.

Due to the level of celebrity and tragedy of the crash, their lives, or rather their deaths, are magnified and intensified. Most of us who ever heard of Kobe Bryant’s career and fame were touched by his death.

Celebrity magnifies life’s events. For most of us, our birth caused no great fanfare for anyone outside our immediate family. Our entry into the world probably wasn’t covered by the press or a trending topic on social media. But when someone is born into The Royal Family the whole world knows about it. 

Baby Archie, born to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, might grow up to regret all the attention some day. Possibly, this is part of the reason for the family’s recent retreat from their royal roles, to try to have some sense of normalcy in their lives.

Tragedy intensifies life’s events. The more unexpected the event, the greater the jolt to our routines. The news of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, changed the lives of everyone who heard about it. The effects of tragedy on us today depend upon how close we are to the event geographically and how socially close we were to those who were victims.

Why the sudden and personal shock across a broader population who had no personal contact with the death of a celebrity? It is because it reminds us once again, if this could happen to someone famous, with an almost god-like status, it can happen to us. 

Here is the truth, regardless of our level of fame, income, or position in life, the same fate awaits all of us. Death is no respecter of persons. It is inevitable. It doesn’t matter if we have a million followers on social media or don’t own a smartphone, if we are a great athlete or paralyzed, if we have a high IQ or learning disabilities. We all die.

Our existence here is brief. James reminds us when he writes,

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” 

James 4:14

Are you ready? A prayer attributed to Moses reminds us to “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

There is hope for us mortals. We can anticipate a greater and more joyful life in eternity through Jesus Christ. He encouraged a woman who had just lost her brother with these words,

“‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die’”

John 11:25
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