Troubled singer Amy Winehouse died yesterday. The cause of death is being described as "unexplained," but her history of drug and alcohol problems (which were bad enough to cause her to develop emphysema) have caused many to snicker as they play a guessing game about how she died. I will admit to even belting-out a few bars to her song Rehab yesterday after hearing of her death. But that sort of mocking has subsided to an overall sadness.
While it's easy to point, laugh and titter at someone in the public eye (especially an entertainer) whose life is crashing & burning around them due to poor choices made, that doesn't mean that it's the right thing to do. If we were to stop and think for a moment, we all of us probably would realize that we have our own crosses to bear in some form or fashion. We all have our vices.
Take myself, for example: I eat too many 'bad' foods, and I don't exercise. If I were to die of a heart attack in the next 5 or 10 years, would my family appreciate folks shaking their heads and saying, "He had it coming?" What about those who smoke and then later develop cancer? I know that it's common to point to their tobacco habit and say that it doomed them, but are our lives so pure that we can point and judge without compunction?
Drugs can mess-up and kill a person quickly. Alcohol is no slouch, either. It's easy to single-out the folks who suffer from these addictions and connect the dots when bad things happen. It's even easier to engage in one of the poorest of human traits: smugness. I know, because I'm guilty of doing it. Surely, part of being human is to be imperfect? But then another part of being human is striving to better ourselves. And while embarking on things like kicking addictions and eating right and exercising, shouldn't we also look to improve our empathy?
Amy Winehouse was fucked-up, no doubt about it. I didn't really care for her music, nor much of what I knew of her. But she was a human being in a lot of pain, mentally and physically. People tried to help her, to no avail. She no doubt wanted to help herself, but drug & alcohol addiction make that something easier said than done. She was a talented individual who brought pleasure to a lot of people, and now her life has been tragically cut short. But really, she wasn't that much different from you or I. Just look in the mirror sometime.