Some people have been making fun of the deathbed words of Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela. According to a general who was present, Chavez said: “I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die.”
The general believes Chavez said those words because he loved Venezuela, but some people are contrasting Chavez’s swaggering, strongman image with the last words and suggesting that Chavez really wasn’t so courageous after all.
I’m no fan of Chavez — who I thought was just another bullying, egotistical Latin American control freak who glorified himself at the expense of his people — but such comments seem awfully mean-spirited to me. I doubt that Chavez was thinking of Venezuela when he expressed a desire to live; instead, like so many of us, he was simply afraid of what lay ahead. Maybe he was worried about being judged for what he has done, maybe he was fearful of being consigned to hell, maybe he was terrified of the yawning void — or maybe he just enjoyed his time on Earth and wanted to make it last as long as possible.
How many people face impending death with courage and serenity? I’d guess not many, and I doubt that I’ll be among the few when my time inevitably comes. Hugo Chavez should be judged by what he did, not by what he said when death lay dead ahead.