"Then what is freedom? It is the will to be responsible to ourselves." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Nothing Is Worth Dying For
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Name one dictator or corrupt politician in world history who ever told his subjects that they shouldn't be willing to die for anything. Name one abusive family member or aggressive relationship partner who told his 'loved ones' that they shouldn't be willing to die for him. I doubt you'll find any.
Everywhere you look in both ancient and modern culture, a pervasive and widespread popular belief dominates the land. It is the notion that certain things in life are worth dying for. Just listen to, watch, or read any music, movies, or books. Catch a simple glimpse of what the churches, news media, and politicians are cranking out. Just look briefly, and you'll excessively encounter 'the virtue of the ultimate sacrifice' no matter where you go. You'll keep hearing and tearing about it 'til the cows come home.
But is it really a good idea? Is dying for something all that it's hyped up to be? And do any better alternatives exist?
For starters, dying for something is hugely a lose-lose scenario: both for yourself and others. As former Libertarian Presidential candidate Harry Browne said in an article, 'When you sacrifice your life, you give up everything. The world has ended. What you were no longer exists. No more life, no more love, no more music, no more sports, no more breathing, no more interest in anything . . . . You are no more.'
What sense does it make to die for something if you won't be alive to experience what you're dying for?
And for those who survive, they will no longer come into contact with your warmth, your beauty, your pleasant conversation, or your talents and hard work (in person). No one can joyously share their ideas or their passions with you in order to make their lives better, because you are gone forever.
What if Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, or Mother Teresa had decided to die for something when they were young? How much less of a better place would the world be today?
Clearly, if you want to improve the 'hive,' then your first order of business should be to stay alive. There is something about being six feet under that seems to make it just a tad bit difficult to enjoy life and be productive.
'But what about taking chances to save someone's life?' some might ask. 'How does this play into the equation?'
In this situation, if no emergency help were available, then the best course of action would be to assess the level of risk involved. If the danger factor of you getting killed were low (or within reasonable limits), then attempting to save this person would be a smart move. But if the threat to you were high or unknown, you should put your own safety first. How can you be totally sure that your high-risk rescue attempt will be successful, even if you die? What would you be dying for, then? Remember, both of you could wind up dead if you don't use your head. Even firefighters and rescue workers will refuse a procedure if it poses excessive risks to them.
'But what about all those wars fought throughout American history?' others will inquire. 'Didn't all those soldiers die to establish and preserve our freedom?'
Well ladies and gentlemen, contrary to what our government-run schools, government-approved news media, and warmongering politicians have taught us, the answer is a big, fat no.
The federal government has either provoked every war that the U.S. has fought, or Americans' individual liberty simply wasn't at stake to begin with. And the long-term goals of these wars have rarely been accomplished. For instance, foreign attacks on U.S. soil (or just offshore) during the War of 1812 and World War II resulted from the corrupt Washington, DC trade policies -- part of which led to the Civil War as well. The U.S. regime's military interventionism abroad provoked the 9/11 attacks and the War on Terrorism. The government's participation in World War I created the conditions for World War II, in which Adolf Hitler sealed his own fate the moment he decided to invade Russia (as Napoleon did more than a century earlier). East Asia suffered under the Iron Curtain of the Communists instead of the Japanese Imperialists, thanks to American politicians during the 1940s. Slavery in the U.S. eventually would have ended by the early 20th Century without the Civil War -- as the Industrial Age would've rendered it economically obsolete. Even the Revolutionary War has its questions, as Wendy McElroy discusses on this web link.
So consequently, what if those millions of American soldiers hadn't sacrificed their lives for the agendas of the politicians? What achievements could they have undertaken during their lifetimes? What new medical cures, great goods and services, and amazing forms of entertainment would they have brought into existence if they had lived their full lives? What if their children had a strong, loving father during their entire childhoods? How much difference would that have made on their lives, and their children's?
It has been said many times that 'freedom is not free,' that liberty carries a 'price,' and I totally agree. But the greatest threats to your personal freedom are your own government and yourself. It is your own government that confiscates half of your income, attempts to micromanage every facet of your life, and puts you at risk of rogue attacks and terrorist acts because of your regime's insane foreign policies. And sometimes, you can be your own worst enemy: making unwise decisions, remaining in situations that don't suit you, and blaming yourself for other people's problems.
'Freedom is not free' in the sense that you must . . .
- Remain vigilant about your government's antics
- Arrange your life in a way that the regime has less effect on your happiness
- Possibly move to another country if your government becomes excessively oppressive (I would like to think, for example, that I would've fled Nazi Germany before it was too late)
- Clarify your values and consider the consequences of your actions before making important decisions
- Learn from your mistakes
- Be honest with yourself and others, even if it makes you unpopular sometimes
How can you accomplish any of these things if you're dead?
You see, when political leaders jabber to the maximum about the need for people to die for something, what they really desire is to build their own power and advance their utopian nightmares -- all at the expense of others. Likewise, when an abusive family member or aggressive relationship partner tells his 'loved ones' the same thing, he's simply projecting his hopes and dreams onto them in a blatant and barbaric fashion.
My uncle once told me that the majority of people are living their lives in 'quiet desperation': bored with their professions, unhappy with their personal relationships, and are simply 'waiting out the years' until they pass away. Is it any wonder that the ultimate sacrifice has been so popular throughout human history?
If you find yourself willing to die for a cause or for person(s), then maybe . . . just maybe . . . you don't love life. Or perhaps, out of personal insecurity, you base your entire happiness upon one single area of your life, such as a particular relationship.
Friendships, family, and romance are awesome. They're meant to dramatically enhance the quality of your life, and should never be taken for granted. But depending solely upon them for your fulfillment is very unhealthy, and certainly can be a burden on those you love. If instead, you could find a decent balance between an enjoyable career, recreational free time, and your close kinships, then you might not feel as if your whole existence were something 'expendable.' You would love life. You would be more realistic and honest with yourself and with others. Those you love would surely appreciate that!
Whom would you rather spend your life with: an insecure jerk who is eager to die for you? Or a clean, fun-loving, honest person who has her head on straight?
Certainly, the relinquishing of one's being is not a good idea. It does not own up to its hype, and far better alternatives bodaciously abound.
(On a side note, the best argument from the pro-personal-death-advocate camp seems to be regarding slaves. But in most cases, the captives' best chance at survival, period, was an escape attempt. If they were shot and killed during their getaway, then the slaves weren't committing the ultimate sacrifice for their freedom; they were simply choosing between two types of deaths: multiple gunshot wounds versus starvation and exhaustion. A similar concept also applies to terminally ill patients who select euthanasia.)
In conclusion, nothing may be worth dying for, but there are plenty of intangible things in life worth fighting for and living for: fulfilling relationships, enjoyable careers, awesome music, exciting sports, recreation and relaxation, a good balance in life, strong principles rooted in reality, and the sheer joy of learning new things and exploring your surroundings. Go ahead . . . do something good for yourself and those you love. It's healthy. It's fun. And you just might make the world a better place because of it. Stay happy . . . and stay alive.