I have a hard time dealing with death. To me, it means the person (or animal) who has died now ceases to exist. At least in this world, even though we're pagan and believe in an afterlife, no one is 100% that there is an afterlife.
And belief in reincarnation aside, as far as we know, we only get this one life.
We recently lost another cat. After losing three cats to a landlord who took them from us and released them into the wild, losing one of the cats we hid from her has been a severe loss to all of us. But to me more than any of us I think. Mainly, because I blame myself for not doing more to prevent the loss of the first three cats because I was afraid of being evicted. I also blame myself for not seeing the signs of illness in Anubis sooner.
To me the loss of Anubis is a senseless loss of life that should have been prevented. I know many people think "it's just a cat." But that's where we run into problems.
"It's just an animal" can very easily become "It's just a faggot" because we view animal lives as less valuable than our own. In fact, we see any life as less valuable than our own, and yes, that's a matter of survival and natural selection.
But as a so called "advanced" society, it shouldn't be.
We have the largest prefrontal cortex of any mammal on earth. Nearly 30% of our brain is devoted to this area that allows us to override our base instincts of survival. That means we should be able to comprehend that ALL life is precious, regardless of whether it's a cat, dog or a human being that thinks differently than we do.
This reverence and respect for all life should be taught early, when our kids are young. Have you ever seen a young child stare in awe of a kitten? That innocence in their eyes comes from the inherent belief that all life is precious. We are all born with it, but somehow we unlearn it. Many times this happens because the child becomes indoctrinated into a religion (any religion).
This is where paganism differs from mainstream religions. The foundation of paganism is respect for all life. In fact, the main deity of the pagan religions is the mother goddess, or mother nature. The Earth itself is the center of the religion/spirituality.
I wasn't born pagan. In fact, I was born and raised Roman Catholic. I "converted" if you will to paganism because I couldn't be part of a religion that murdered innocent people because they believed in something different (i.e. the Crusades) and used their "holy book" to justify it.
Now, don't misunderstand. I'm not saying paganism is better than Christianity, or any other religion for that matter. ALL religions have their flaws, paganism included. But that's kind of my point. No matter what religion or spirituality you follow, you can still think for yourself! And you should!
Your religion or spirituality can and should provide guidance, but it shouldn't make all of your decisions for you, and it certainly shouldn't tell you what to believe.
"Wait a minute," you're saying, "that's the purpose of religion."
No, it's really not.
Religion is meant to give you something to believe in, not tell you what you should believe.
That's why there are so many religions. Think about it. Originally, Christianity was the religion that converted the pagans. The Catholic church became the most powerful, stating their church was created by Jesus himself. Catholic means universal. It was meant to be a universal church.
But there were people who didn't agree with what Catholicism was teaching, and they started their own religions. Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation was the beginning of the schism from the Catholic church from which all the other Christian religions were formed.
Granted, that's a very simplistic synopsis of the history of Christianity, but the point still stands. There were people who didn't agree with one church's teachings, so they created their own. They were thinking for themselves.
But for some reason, we have become complacent. While there are still many of us (myself included) questioning the doctrine that recent propaganda is trying to promote, there are just as many, if not more, people who simply accept that doctrine, no questions asked.
That needs to stop, or our society will continue to spiral into chaos.
Question everything. Read all different perspectives of every subject. Listen to different points of view. This is how we learn. This is how we evolve as a society.
You don't have to agree with everything. In fact, I sincerely hope you don't. But you do need realize that that's okay, and I want you to teach your kids that it's okay. Because the only way we will learn to value all life as precious is to realize that everyone's different perspectives are vital to the evolution of our society.