Voluntary Suicide of the Modern World History

Topics: World War II, Kamikaze, Modern history Pages: 7 (2320 words) Published: March 17, 2013

Voluntary Suicide of the Modern World History

Throughout history, the world has seen and experienced different acts of violence, murder and terrorism. There were armies, groups, and individuals involved in these violent acts. Some of these acts were well thought out while others happened in the moment. The people perpetrating these acts were under the order of their superiors, religious leaders, and political leaders. Others were committing these acts on their own due to their political and/or religious beliefs. In this essay, I will be comparing the individuals that committed martyrdom or voluntary suicide throughout early modern history through the present times. I will explain the reasons for their demise, their background, and what they wanted to accomplish. I will also explain how the act martyrdom/voluntary suicide has changed through time and whether the individuals doing through these acts can truly be considered martyrs for their heroism or suicide terrorists. According to Merriam-Webster, martyrdom means “the suffering of death on account of adherence to a cause and especially to one’s religious faith.” Martyrdom can be one of the terms used to describe those individuals that commit violent acts to themselves to give a message to the world about their religious beliefs. Another term that can also be used describe individuals that commit violent acts is voluntary suicide. Voluntary suicide can be “for the provision of a public good, be it the witnessing of the faith, the victory of one's side in a struggle, or the slaughter of the infidel enemy.” Early History

Prior to the early modern world during medieval times, martyrdom was very common among the Christians during the reign of Diocletian as that did not want to “worship the emperor as divine” so they succumbed to being “tortured, burned, beheaded, or thrown to the wild beasts in the public amphitheaters.” After the Edict of Milan (ca. 313) was passed by Constantine, life for Christians changed and martyrdom became almost non-existent among the people throughout Europe as they had very strong beliefs about Christianity. The teachings of St. Augustine of Hippo (ca. 354-430) through his book City of God established the belief that one must live a faithful and sinful life and follow God’s orderly rule in order to be allowed into “the heavenly city that is the eternal place of the Christian soul.” This means suicide is not acceptable. These beliefs were instilled in people’s minds for hundreds of years. With the discovery of the New World, the Medieval Ages ended and with that, the beliefs of religion in people changed around the world. To better understand the concept of martyrdom or voluntary suicide in the during the early modern history period, the Japanese samurai are a perfect example. The Samurai – 1568 - 1853

In Japan, there was a long period of struggle due to the breakdown of centralized power and civil war. After the period of struggle in Japan, the Great Unifiers (ca. 1568 – 1853) brought peace and stability to Japan. The Japanese practiced feudalism which was the “political, economic and social system based on loyalty, the holding of land, and military service.” Feudalism created the foundation for the involvement of the samurai in the political world. During the years of anarchy, the daimyo, which were local lords, would hire samurai as they were the most loyal to the “lord and one’s name family name as well as self-discipline and perfection in the martial arts. Dishonor was the occasion ritual suicide by the sword.” Dishonor was not the only reason why samurai would commit suicide. This is the reason why the daimyo leaders had samurai as a part of their army was because they knew that the samurai would be loyal and because without them it would be almost impossible to become powerful. Samurai had very high values for their family but most importantly for their...
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