Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Stop dying and start living

Seems like the situation in Darfur is getting worse every day. It's spread to eastern Chad as well as the Northern Central African Republic and threatens to disrupt over 6 million lives. Despite these horrors I cannot say that I would take up arms and fight. My life is as good as those that are lost in the fighting, so why would I risk losing it?
Giving aid and getting involved in evil situations is not the only way to promote good. When I read about all of the terrible events that are occuring each day I make a promise to myself to make up for them by living as well as these lives were lived poorly. I do the same tedious daily activities as everyone else but force myself to keep my eyes on what matters. When little things are getting me down I have to stop myself and remind me of my duties. But I always think about when students a hundred years from now look back to today, what will there be that justifies the horrors that we're dealing with? To make up for the Holocaust we gave a homeland to those who had suffered... but in retrospect we know this didn't solve anything. Even if Israel was at peace, would that make up for the millions of individuals whose lives were made into the opposite of what life should be? So I've decided to be the justification. I've decided that I want to give the world something that makes people say, "A child was just raped and mutilated in front of her parents? That's horrible. But look at what this man did with his life." And my accomplishments won't include trying to stamp out all the evil in the world so that it's neutral instead of ugly. Instead, I'll be pulling up the other side: the good, joyful, and beautiful.
So here's my statement to all of you. Instead of rushing out of your way to put out the fires that surround you, hold your path. You can spend your entire life trying to put out these fires, but in the end what will you have gained? I'm not advocating denying any sort of aid to anyone, but remember that extinguishing a flame doesn't replace what it consumes. Everyone of us has been given such good circumstances in which to live, so use what you have to increase the beauty of the world. I have a lot to make up for. Won't you help me?

2 comments:

mar-r said...

Carter-I understand what you are saying, I too am a big advocate of making something beautiful of your life, however I feel like your argument overlooks some major ideas.

Obviously your life is already good. The fact that you realize the good in your life and the good potential within you is even better, and you need to be sure not to waste it. However, that potential for personal growth and realization does not have a chance to flourish in many people who are forced to suffer under the paralysis of evil wars, leaders, and countless other evils. If you believe in the beauty of life and want to use all of your talents to increase the beauty in the world, then certainly you should feel that everyone has the right to do the same. While you are promoting beauty in your world try to think about children in Darfur (and unfortunately countless other places) who are thinking the same thing, who want each facet of their lives and the lives they touch to glow with beauty. Unfortunately, they do not have that opportunity and are powerless to change it. While they are raped and mutilated in front of their families don’t you think they wish with every speck of their being that they could have the same opportunity as you to accomplish something beautiful?

The reason that we fight and stand up for those who are being mistreated is because we realize the injustice in their torture and we understand the beauty of life. If everyone thought that life was pain and suffering then no one would be quick to stand up for the rights of others who are being abused. We fight so that others can be free to bring beauty into the world and live their own lives to the fullest.

Clearly nothing at the end of WWII could have brought justice to those who were brutally massacred. Your argument that giving survivors a homeland didn’t alleviate any suffering is banal, because obviously nothing could change what had happened. However, if no one interfered and got involved in that evil situation, the outcome would have been a lot worse. It is through the intervention of others who realized that no one should be subject to such horrors that some lives were saved.

Many people argue that just saving one life isn’t worth the hassle, however, if you look at life the way you view your own life, as being worth ignoring the suffering of others, than people should take every necessary step to preserving all lives and thus filling the world with even more good.

You’re right; extinguishing a flame doesn’t replace what it consumes. We can hopefully see our mistakes in the ashes and learn not to make them again. However, if no one exerts the efforts necessary to put out the flame, then it’s devastation is much more vast-a wildfire where no one is safe from harm. Then what would you do, when everyone felt that their own lives were too precious to waste their time to help preserve the beauty you see in yours?

Anonymous said...

Mar-r, my statement to you then is to go fight in Darfur. If you think it is worthy of your action then by all means help out. There will be thousands that will thank you, including me. I certainly don't want injustice in the world any more than you do. However, there is no one that has the right to tell me what cause I must take up. I do not doubt that those who suffer would give anything to be in my shoes, which is precisely the reason that I'm remaining in them. I know that you fight so that there's less injustice, but your efforts stop there. Look at those around you. Do any of them have a life so wonderful that it's worth giving everything to maintain it? What's so grand about the 9-5 grind, the endless diapers to be changed, or paying the bills? Most people I see are busy trying to escape their lives through the minor indulgences to which they look forward. "Life" starts and ends on the weekends, when people can forget everything that's actually occuring (or not occuring) in there humdrum daily existence. They don't have it bad. But they're not living to their full potential. Before you head off for Africa (assuming you're even willing to make a significant change over there) ask yourself how those villagers that you save will live their lives. Will your saving of them be enough to give them an amazing life, one worth risking your own for? No one knows for sure, but you can have certainty over your own life. The choice is up to you, but I've made my decision and there's no one that's going to tell me otherwise.
-carter