Friday, February 22, 2013

What Are You Living For?

Bug: Place your projectile weapon on the ground.
Edgar: You can have my gun, when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.
Bug: Your proposal is acceptable. 

-- From Men In Black

In response to the recent mass shootings, President Obama proposed 23 Executive Orders to limit gun ownership, New York passed a new gun control law, and many new laws have been proposed.  The response has been dramatic: gun sales have gone through the roof, sheriffs are vowing to refuse to enforce the law, and some are proclaiming a second American Revolution if people from the Federal government come to take their guns.  The majority of Americans, though, are horrified at the thought, if they think of it at all.  "Nothing is worth dying for" is a popular sentiment.

Charles Rangel has once again reintroduced legislation to reinstate the draft.  His point, as it has been since he started in 2003, is that war is a terrible thing and if military service were involuntary we might not go to war so quickly.  That is a fine sentiment, especially when the wars were already unpopular under George W. Bush.  Today, however, that could backfire, as people are starting to think it a good idea to replace war-weary troops, especially since record numbers are dying from suicide.

I'm sure there are many reasons why this is happening.  I would like to highlight something James Howard Kunstler pointed out years ago in The Geography of Nowhere: we have transformed our neighborhoods into sterile places that we don't care about.  Once the four lane highways and the strip malls and the big box stores and the skyscrapers come in, every place starts looking like every other.

So, to go back, people say "Nothing is worth dying for", but, would you really want it said of you, "S/He died for nothing"?  Everyone has to die sometime.  Ideally it would come after a long, happy life, but that is not always possible.  The worst is a slow, painful, pointless death.  What makes an early death tolerable is if it is meaningful, if it serves a purpose.  It should be a purpose that the person dying felt was worth dying for.  And if you know what is worth dying for, you know what you are living for.

The Long Ascent will be very difficult.  Only those who know what they are living for will want to make the trip.

1 comment:

  1. Yes we all have to die sometime. But you wouldn't know it the way our society acts. I suspect it is the result of our dwindling (without immegration) population. Less people = more value per person. My son is the only grandson on my wife's side, and only one of three on mine. He gets lots of presents.