Humanism

Interesting question:

This topic contains 51 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Davis 7 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #36977

    Davis
    Moderator

    Is it wrong to have a picnic with some friend on top of a strangers grave? Let’s say the stranger’s next of kin are still alive and visit once a year (though not the day of the picnic).

    #36980

    Unseen
    Participant

    “On top” of the grave? Poor taste at best, though I think a graveyard should not be treated like a public amusement area. So, wrong in that sense, yeah.

     

    #36983

    Autumn
    Participant

    I don’t think there is a specific answer that works. If my family memorialized that way, I’d prefer people use the space for joyous things.

    Still, cemeteries are for the living, ultimately, and the living are pretty inconsistent in terms of customs, expectations, sense of propriety.

    There is a cemetery near where my mother and brother live. People often use it as a place for walks/runs/bike rides and other things not related to mourning or paying respects. It’s Vancouver, so I really wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been used as a filming location*. It seems to be accepted well enough that people can enjoy the space provided they aren’t being disruptive or disrespectful.

    I was in Guayaquil and a cemetery was marked as a site of interest to see; however, the impression I got was of a far more solemn place with much greater reservations. They said I could go in as long as I didn’t take pictures, but I didn’t do more than look from the entrance because I was dressed like a tourist (more or less) at the time and it seemed out of place.

    I have family in Bavaria and when I was young we visited a cemetery out in the country (where we have family buried, though it’s not like I personally knew any of them). Could be wrong, but despite the heavy ties to Catholicism, I didn’t get a sense of deep sanctity about being there. I feel like having a picnic there would have been more of an affront because why wouldn’t you have a picnic in the places people have picnics? Why be a weirdo?

    *It has: https://moviemaps.org/locations/xz

    #36985

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Older gaveyards (or old sections) are beautiful and have interesting headstones and statuary and I think it is cool to picnic there, especially at night.

    A picnic in a modern section is in poor taste and might needlessly upset some people, but in the big picture it is pretty minor.

    New Orleans Cemetery has old and new mixed and even has ‘tours’ going on. They can’t really bury you because of the water table being just a foot down. They put you on a shelf in a hot, mass grave, concrete crypt and after a year or so they squeegee you off the shelf and load the next corpse. In the summer the stench is wicked.

    #36986

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    I wouldn’t sit on somebody’s tomb and have a picnic, unless it was about 2000 years old.

    #36987

    Autumn
    Participant

    I wouldn’t sit on somebody’s tomb and have a picnic, unless it was about 2000 years old.

    Why would you eat from a 2000-year-old picnic? You’d get sick, Simon.

    #36988

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    lol

    #36990

    I once spent an night on my own in a very old rural graveyard after taking a large dose of magic mushrooms. I spent most of the time imagining who each person may have been. I was about 18 at the time.  While the dead would not care if I danced on their graves I don’t think I would because of the anguish it might cause to the relatives of the dead. Especially not on a first date.

    #36997

    Unseen
    Participant

    I wouldn’t sit on somebody’s tomb and have a picnic, unless it was about 2000 years old.

    A 2000 year old gravesite would likely be a national monument or world historical site, so you’d probably be subject to arrest.

    #37010

    TheEncogitationer
    Participant

    Davis and Fellow Unbelievers,

    I’d much rather be surrounded by life and lively things on an outdoor eating excursion.

    All due respect to the dead, of course, but they just aren’t good, fun conversation over great food.

    I see what you might be doing, Simon, but let the non-existent bury the non-existent. 😉

    #37011

    _Robert_
    Participant

    All due respect to the dead, of course, but they just aren’t good, fun conversation over great food.

    The dead in their silence are much more pleasant than many of the people around here. The plague has taught me again that I am happier without them and I that I should be more selective with my associations. I learned this once before when trying to make my way through university. Druggies and dirt bags (never a shortage of them) always wanting to drag you down with them when you have a Electromagnetics midterm in the morning.

    #37012

    Over the last year I have moved some people I was acquainted with into my “poison pool”. I will no longer seek to engage with them in any format.  These are people who always seem to want something from me or if not, have nothing positive to say about other people.  I had time to reflect and had a few “Hang on a minute” moments.

    I suppose I do this every few years.

    #37013

    TheEncogitationer
    Participant

    Robert and Reg,

    You are both right here too.  Quality people as company should be an understood in fine dining outdoors.

    Eduard Manet had a possible right idea in his Déjeuner Sur l’Herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) which, of course, you could vary to taste:

    https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edouard_Manet_024.jpg

    #37017

    Davis
    Moderator

    I understand the resistance to saying: yes it is immoral or no it is not. Because it is a difficult one to defend (not because it is necessarily relative). It seems  the general answer here is: it is in bad taste.

    However I do believe it is immoral in some moral systems. Deontological, utilitarian or virtue ethics to name just three (though it is a LOT more dubious for deontological systems). I would say for utilitarian ethics:

    The benefits of having  a picnic on top of a grave when there are countless other places you can easily have that picnic on instead, are heavily outweighed by the consequences to the bereaved family. In other words it is difficult to imagine how “someone feeling empowered to have a picnic in place x when a million other places are just as convenient at the cost of hurting the bereaved and violating a solemn space” could contribute in any way to the maximising general social happiness and the diminished of suffering.

    For virtue ethics, its simply impossible for me to imagine how eating a sand which and wine on top of some strangers grave when you can so easily do it in a million other places which won’t hurt the bereaved or insult social sensibilities…would be virtuous.

    For deontological systems it is rather difficult to formulate a rule. The best I can come up with is: if you can easily avoid something that can hurt others and doesn’t have any ideological value…don’t do it. The reason I phrased it so specifically is if the rule was: if you can easily avoid something that hurts others then don’t do it…you would be seriously limited. For example publishing a “Muhammed cartoon” will definitely hurt others. But I don’t think it is reasonable to limit people in such a way. I believe there can be much ideological value to challenging religious ideas and not abstaining from parody or ridicule just because someone’s holy books or traditions don’t like it. On the other hand, for me personally, I cannot imagine any ideological benefit to having a picnic on someone’s grave. As deontological systems are relative to the person who formulates the rule, I think this one would stand. It’s not a particularly useful rule, not a strong one or even a praiseworthy one but it’s the best I can come up with.

    I could go into consequentialism and fixed morality but I think both of them will end up judging it is immoral. I don’t think for two of these systems that having a picnic would be considered a particularly grave immoral act (pun intended) but it is always interesting to work out the reasoning from why something feels wrong (or even bad taste) to explaining and justifying it according to a methodical moral system.

    #37018

    Autumn
    Participant

     are heavily outweighed by the consequences to the bereaved family. In other words it is difficult to imagine how “someone feeling empowered to have a picnic in place x when a million other places are just as convenient at the cost of hurting the bereaved and violating a solemn space” could contribute in any way to the maximising general social happiness and the diminished of suffering.

    The problem is, the suffering of the bereaved and what causes it is variable. It may seem like a simple issue to resolve when we consider that no one is likely offended that people don’t have picnics on their loved one’s grave sites, whereas at least some (many?) people are offended when people do have picnics on their loved one’s grave sites.

    But when we look at it in terms of what we normalize, I think problems do emerge. There is a narrative to grief, bereavement and paying respects embedded in various cultures, but what those things look like for individuals can actually be very different. I would contend the sort of normativity we see surrounding bereavement and paying respects does cause harm. Do we challenge that by having picnics on graves? Perhaps not. But when it’s being posed as an ethical hypothetical, I do think it is important to not pander to normative values too much.

     

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 4 weeks ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 7 months, 4 weeks ago by  Davis.
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