I was watching a documentary the other day and an inspired thought was brought forth by a person being interviewed. He claimed the leading cause of suicide in small towns is due to a lack of imagination.
He went on to explain that, in a small town, you can feel trapped and stifled and the only way out of that living death is moving out of that town — through education or a job opportunity — but few young people today have the earned guts or the sustained imagination to make such a bold move away from the context of community, family and friends they were born into, and so the only way they can see out of their miserable, dead, life is to actively find an end in suicide.
As a child of the Midwestern mentality, I completely understand the argument.
There was an old, but wholly unspoken, chestnut growing up that if someone was killed in a one car collision with an interstate overpass support, or if they “ran off” a bridge and died in the crash — those deaths were suicide and not by accident.
In the barren flatlands, where traffic is always light and manageable, the only way to die in that sort of one car accident is by your own, intentional, hand. The community would accept your suicide as “an accident” with the repressed understanding of the unspeakable inner intention.
We’re familiar with “suicide by cop” — well, now you know about “suicide by cloverleaf bridge support at 100mph.”
If you have imagination, you can deal with a barren, dead, life in the Midwest — because your mind knows no bounds.
With an active imagination, you could happily spend 100 years in solitary confinement without any other human interaction because you have the power of your mind that always offers you real freedom.
We are not our bodies; we are only our minds.
Imagination is dangerous to the power majority because imaginative people have a knack for bending rules and twisting social norms without breaking them and that very act of bending — instead of bending over — is interpreted as a cudgel against the unbendable middling mindset.
Can we teach imagination?
Or are we only born with imagination?
Can a literal person be taught to think in melody and color instead of soundless and colorless plain text?
If imagination can help cure the impulse of suicide as the final end to a meme — do we owe it to each other to force forward the idea that permission to think freely is the most cherished and perishable freedom we tend to always want but never own?