The world view of most people can best be represented by shades of grey. They tend to prefer grey areas as it allows wiggle room just in case they make a mistake… they can point to the varying shades and say, “well, I didn’t say X or Y, so I can’t be blamed.”
I, on the other hand, see things in stark black and white. Something either is or isn’t… there is no in between for me, not because I lack imagination, but because I believe whole heartedly in the things I choose to believe in. I’m not a fence straddler… I’m not hedging my bets… I’m not half-in, half-out. What this means is that I’m not only willing to make mistakes, but am willing to accept full responsibility for them.
When I do something, I do it because I’ve given thought to not only the action itself, but the reaction that results. This philosophy permeates every facet of my life. I alone shape the world around me since my actions are solely my responsibility.
There is an order to the world. We’re born, we live, we die. When we’re born, where we’re born, to whom we’re born is irrelevant. When we die, how we die, where we die is also equally irrelevant. The only thing that counts is how we live… the experiences we gain, the places we go, the people we meet, the lives we share… those things are important. Because I view the world in this way, I really don’t find anyone’s death tragic, regardless of the circumstances. The only tragedy, in my opinion anyway, is not living every moment as if it were your last. It is the worst kind of squandering possible… a life lived carefully is a life wasted.
Here’s where I’m gonna piss some of you off.
The world is no less dangerous now than it was when life clawed its way out of the primordial ooze. Shit happens and when it does, you’ll get plenty of people who will ask, “Why?” They’ll see human suffering, but I see nothing more than proof that life is precious. Proof that there is a natural order to the universe is best displayed when some natural or unnatural disaster occurs.
When calamity strikes, some people feel compelled to wax poetic about the tragedy and question the heavens for reason in the face of chaos. Out of pity, out of guilt, out of some misplaced sense of responsibility, they’ll struggle to connect with people they wouldn’t, in most instances, give a rat’s ass about if they passed them on the street. I wonder about the motivations of such people, not because I find their attempts at compassion admirable, but because the idea that some kind of disaster is required before you’re willing to reach out to your fellow man is the worst kind of conceit imaginable to me.
The tsunami a while back. The hurricane last week. How did you react? Were you moved to make a donation after being riveted to the tv like a gawker at a fatal traffic accident? How would you have reacted to the 1904 earthquake in San Francisco, the sinking of the titanic, the felling of the Hindenberg… would you have reached into your pocketbook to ease your conscience?
Even when the event is driven by the most basic of human emotions, hate, I see nothing tragic about death. The lives lost on September 11, 2001 aren’t any more tragic than the lives that ended on September 10, 2001 or June 8, 1967 or February 12, 3005.
I might be easiest for someone to read this and label me callous and unfeeling, perhaps even inhuman, but nothing could be further from the truth. The only difference between me and someone who is motivated to act when calamity strikes is that I’ve made my peace with the idea of death and won’t fear it if and when it comes. Whether the ground opens up and swallows me whole, or disease ravages my body, or some fanatical miscreant takes me in a hail of bullets, I hope to be judged not by how I died, but how I lived.
I wonder if the real motivation behind benefit concerts when natural disasters occur is actually something less noble… like a misplaced sense of guilt, or worse, a way of aligning yourself with a cause so you can be viewed in a favorable light. I wonder why these musicians and actors don’t just work for free, donating everything they earn above what is necessary to survive to the poor… why only give of their time when it is required by their publicist?
I know, I’m a malcontent, a shallow hole that is filled with the worst thoughts humanity possesses, but at least I’m not afraid to admit that I’m not perfect.