“They carried the common secret of cowardice barely restrained, the instinct to run or freeze or hide, and in many respects this was the heaviest burden of all, for it could never be put down, it required perfect balance and perfect posture.”
You, why are you so afraid of war and slaughter? Even if all the rest of us drop and die around you, grappling for the ships, you’d run no risk of death: you lack the heart to last it out in combat—coward!
Cowardice is nothing to do with it - suicide takes considerable courage. . . What’s selfish is to demand another to endure an intolerable existence, just to spare families, friends, and enemies a bit of soul-searching.
People pontificate, “Suicide is selfishness.” Career churchmen like Pater go a step further and call in a cowardly assault on the living. Oafs argue this specious line for varying reason: to evade fingers of blame, to impress one’s audience with one’s mental fiber, to vent anger, or just because one lacks the necessary suffering to sympathize.
“Nobody complains about all the fog. I know why, now: as bad as it is, you can slip back in it and feel safe. That’s what McMurphy can’t understand, us wanting to be safe. He keeps trying to drag us out of the fog, out in the open where we’d be easy to get at”
“Do you mean to kill him, you cowards? Do you mean to kill the man who saved Melinda Moores’s life, who tried to save those little girls’ lives? Well, at least there will be one less black man in the world, won’t there? You can console yourselves with that. One less n*gger.”
“I understand enough. [...] I understand that Jace trusted you and you traded him away to a man who hated his father and probably hates Jace, too, just because you’re too cowardly to live with a curse you deserved.”