“Ender was a destroyer, but what he destroyed was illusion, and the illusion had to die.”
–Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead
We tend to think of destruction as a bad thing. We prefer those who construct or who preserve. We fight against the destruction of our bodies, our homes, our families. Destruction is a big bad wolf in our eyes.
But what Orson Scott Card does so simply and so eloquently is force us to reconsider. Perhaps destruction has its place. This is more than a “time for everything” sentiment. It is more forceful than that. Some things, at least in Ender’s eyes, deserve to be destroyed.
And Ender is right. Illusion is permissible for a time. But in the end the truth has to come to light. We cannot ignore reality forever. That is the whole point of the Speaker of the Dead. The Speaker reveals the world as it is, a person as they were. There is no room for illusion. It’s not about eulogy. It’s about telling the truth.
We all hide who we are. There are appropriate places for us to be vulnerable. There are other venues that require more consideration for our own privacy and the privacy of others. We tend to assume that funerals are places for fond memories and gentle words.
But what if we had our own Speakers for the Dead? Would we live differently knowing the truth was coming? Or would the truth just be a bitter remnant for our loved ones to digest, shocking or expected? None of our lives is all good or all bad. The Speaker remembers all. We try to just remember the good.