A story in today’s New York Times (Dec. 10, 2011) describes the sad choice of a promising young man to end his own life. The story has become a sensation in the debate over the Dream Act, but everyone seems to be ignoring an underlying condition that distorted the reality of his options.
Joaquin Luna Jr.’s death at the age of 18 came after dressing up in a maroon shirt and tie and laying next to his mom in bed. He told her “he was never going to be what he wanted to be.” Then he went into the bathroom and put a handgun under his chin.
He was born in Mexico and came to the States as an infant and had aspirations of becoming an engineer or architect. But while immigration advocates seized onto the story as an example of the internal suffering and depression that comes with trying to find a way a country in which one is not a citizen, facts all too often ignored are being glossed over here.
His suicide writings were illuminating. Quoting here from the Times article:
In brief letters to relatives, friends and teachers, he asked one of his brothers to take care of his nephews and his niece and told a friend he had left a memento for her in his Bible.
One letter was different from the rest. It was addressed to Jesus Christ, and in it he asked for forgiveness. “Jesus,” he wrote, “I’ve realized that I have no chance in becoming a civil engineer the way I’ve always dreamed of here … so I’m planning on going to you and helping you construct the new temple in heaven.”
The rational mind recoils not just at the thinking of this poor young man (who you can hardly blame, as he was taught this was so), but at the credulous treatment by the Times, and almost all media, of religious claims.
Now here we have what is just the latest victim of belief. In this case, belief in false options. This young man staked his “future” on the religious claims of an afterlife. What a horrible distortion of the available options.
This young man, given a rational upbringing, would have known that, while his options may have been daunting, they still required some sort of solution in this life. And given that the options are all of this earth, would have focused his engineering mind on a solution.
This is just one more example of why indoctrinating children in religious teachings amounts to child abuse and why I preach atheism and practice humanism.