The Dance of Death and Randomness

The Dance of Death and Randomness

When you walk into St Nicholas’ Church in Tallinn Estonia you are confronted by the 15th Century painting, The Dance of Death. When standing in front of the painting one is captivated by the magnificent work of the master painter Bernt Notke. The painting is only a fragment of the original Lubeck masterpiece but captures so well the essence of the randomness of life.

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The Dance of Death shows the procession of the elite, nobles and peasants in various poses as they dance their way to death in the face of the randomness of life and the The Black Death. The painting captures the universality of death as it wanders between each character in the personified image of the decayed skeleton. From the highest ranks of the mediaeval hierarchy (usually pope and emperor) descending to its lowest (beggar, peasant, and child), each mortal’s hand is taken by the grim reaper. The Lubeck painting can be viewed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danse_Macabre

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The painting is both allegorical and satirical making it clear that ‘He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous’ (Matthew 5:45). In other words, ‘safety is not a choice you make’. There is a limit to the human controls one can put in place in life, there is no zero harm. Indeed, the language of zero harm is the denial of randomness and fallibility in life and the demand for immortality. As a goal, the language of zero must drive risk aversion, blaming, counting and life denial (https://safetyrisk.net/my-target-goal-is-zero-death/).

This is not to say that one desires harm (as our binary friends might think), but to say that talking nonsense language (eg. ‘all accidents are preventable’) looks pretty silly in the face of real life. If all accidents were preventable then there would be no need for insurance companies.

Then when randomness does visit someone the language of ‘zero’ prevents empathy with pain and suffering and, projects a declared self-righteousness by omission. This further prevents helping and support at a critical time of loss.

As one stands in front of the Dance of Death one can’t hold up silly nonsense goals and silly nonsense language.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

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