At one point in the offertory of the traditional latin mass the priest says this:
Domine, dilexi decorem domus tuae: et locum habitationis gloriae tuae. Ne perdas cum impiis, Deus animam meam: et cum viris sanguinum vitam meam. In quorum manibus iniquitates sunt: dextera eorum repleta est muneribus.
which at times translates as follows:
O Lord, I have loved Thy beauteous house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth. Destroy not my soul with the impious, O God, nor my life with men of blood. On whose hands injustice abideth, whose right hand is full of bribes.
The world has its temptations. Then again, a man should go where he won’t be tempted.
We recall being told, on too many occasions, that the point of it all – life, that is – is to benefit one’s family. We have retorted – also on too many occasions – “Shall we shoot another man in the head if that will benefit our family?” a rhetorical question, of course, but usually spoken without the rhetorical device of speaking in the first person plural.
It’s the morality of “The Godfather“. People seem to forget that the Godfather and his “family” were, in the end, murderous criminals:
Taking your own life is one way out of a federal criminal prosecution and the almost certain conviction that attends it. If you’re an elected public official who wants his state pension to go to his family, something that might very well not happen if you’re convicted on federal fraud charges, it’s one way to eliminate that risk, too.
If the point of life is to benefit your family, Bill Nojay’s choice was a no-brainer. Indeed, it could be seen as a heroic act.
Of course, this is another theme right out of the Godfather, Part II:
Legend (and The Godfather, Part II) has it that among the ancient Romans suicide was the honorable way out.
Bill was nothing if not an aspiring member of America’s ruling class. He punched the Ivy League ticket and involved himself in international affairs, an odd pastime for a state legislator. Perhaps his trip through Columbia led to CIA involvement through some obscure group known as “Foundation for Democracy in Iran“, for which he was apparently the director and – not at altogether fortuitously at this point – treasurer.
Let’s assume, with ample reason, that the alternative outcome for Bill Nojay was a huge scandal, shame, criminal conviction and impoverishment for his family, and death in federal custody. Why not off yourself?
To the ancient (pre-Christian) Romans and we’d guess pagans in general it’s hard, or maybe impossible, to come up with a good reason. Are we become pagans, then, if not explicitly then at least in practice?
Then again some people say that suicide is always cowardly.
But the circumstances here do not suggest cowardice or despair or any overwhelming emotion. No, to us this appears to be a cold, calculated, pragmatic and fundamentally pagan act. We don’t know if Bill Nojay was a Christian. What we do know is that his action in taking his own life was the act of a worldling, a person not so much opposed to Christianity as someone who believes in the end that Christianity doesn’t matter.
Maybe it doesn’t, of course. You pays your money and you takes your chances. And Bill took his.
Even so. RIP Bill.