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Dead Men Walking: What Will You Steal For a Little More Time?

dead men walking sxc hu smallGuess what. You are already dead… you just haven’t stop moving around yet. You might finish your life’s journey today or a year from now, or 100 years from now, but you are already a “Dead Man Walking.”

This is an important fact to know. Once you fully embrace your own mortality, you need to ask yourself a few important questions. What will you do, what will you sacrifice, what will you give up or take on, or take from others to increase the time you have remaining to you?

Would you kill another person to gain another year of life?

Would you bankrupt your family to give yourself more time?

Would you endure extreme and extended pain to keep breathing just a little longer?

Of course people want to be healthy and safe and happy, and usually want other people to be healthy and safe and happy.  Life, however, is a series of choices that people make to balance all aspects of one’s journey. Indeed, we may find that healthy, safe and happy are, at times, at war with each other… that too much fixation on health and safety can destroy happiness and make the journey longer, perhaps, but less livable. Who, we may ask, has the right to dictate to us what makes our lives more livable?

What a person needs to ask himself or herself is whether putting off death a little more is the only important goal in confronting issues of life and death and society. If it is, then there are few changes we need to make. If it isn’t, then we need to seriously reconsider the costs we are paying as a society and as individuals for a little more health and safety.

One will never be healthy enough. There is never enough safety one can secure. We could spend everything we have on nothing but health care and we would still die, eventually. We could spend everything we have on nothing but security and bad things can still get us… even if only from within our own bodies and from within our own minds.

Do we really think that saving lives… meaning that we extend the time that some people have in life… is the only thing that matters? If so, then we should ban all vehicles, all alcohol, all dangerous recreational activities, all weapons and all tools that can be used as weapons, and, maybe, all social interaction in general… people kill people. We should puree all our food… do you know how many people a year die from choking?! We should wear helmets and body armor 24/7.

How much of your freedom are you willing to sacrifice to be a little healthier and a little safer? How much of other people’s freedom are you willing to steal away to force them to be a little healthier and a little safer?

Should we put cameras in every home (domestic violence is rampant, you know), on every street outside every home (there a lot of bad people out there after all)? Perhaps we should empower really smart doctors to decide what and how much every person should eat? We could hire government personal trainers and force every citizen to exercise just the right amount and to maintain just the right weight. We should also force every person to submit to inspections to make sure that they floss and brush after each government approved meal. A lot of parents are bad parents, so perhaps we should create child rearing centers where government professionals raise all the children… teaching them all the right things.

Why, we would bring in a golden age of health and safety… or would we? For a humorous look at such notions, I highly recommend the book Rash by Pete Hautman.

Apart from the basic economic fact that governments are notoriously inefficient at running things, at what cost, both to our souls and to our hope for economic prosperity, do we strip away the freedom of others to make mistakes, to be less than we think they could be, to be foolish?

Perfect health and perfect safety and perfect length of days don’t exist… can’t be obtained. What they are, however, are perfect carrots to lure people into giving up more of their wealth, more of their freedom, more of their future capacity to live their lives with all the richness and pain that personal responsibility affords.

What are you willing to sacrifice in order to pursue the hope of more health and more safety? What are you willing to steal away from others in order to force them to live their lives the way you think they should? The fact that you have to share this planet with them is not a sound principle upon which to imprison the world to your sensibilities.

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