Sunday, September 30, 2012

An Argument Against Love

            No one likes being unhappy. Of the many things that could be done to try to alleviate it, the one that is rarely suggested is perhaps the one that would be most effective. Most of our lives are spent in interaction with other people, and as a result, much of the pain and frustration that we face stems from our relationships with others. My suggestion is simple: love no one. Eliminate all feelings for your fellow people.
            Once you have ridden yourself of those burdensome emotional attachments that plague us all, your capacity for being hurt by the actions of others will be massively reduced. If you have no feelings for a person, misfortunes that befall them will never again trouble you. When someone you love does something that hurts you, that hurt is compounded by disappointment: you know they can be better. Why, though, would you feel disappointment at the level to which someone you did not care about had sunk? It is much easier to forget harsh words and actions from those you have no attachment to. Rid yourself of the unfortunate idea that you will be happier if you love others. Looking at it as I have done here, is it not obvious that such a supposition is downright ridiculous?
            Are you often frustrated by the ignorance, the pettiness, the obnoxious nature, the laziness of those around you? Simply cease to care. The only reason you are frustrated is that you wish they were better. You would like it if they improved by eliminating the irritating attribute. If you did not concern yourself with them at all, the problem would disappear. You would be able to tolerate anyone out of a total lack of feelings for them. Annoyances that once seemed insurmountable would vanish rapidly as Houston snow. You would be able to lie back and bask in the delicious freedom that comes of being utterly devoid of the myriad of irritations that were once all that you could think about.
            It seems that everyone is constantly telling us that we should all love each other, but it is abundantly clear that that is not the way to happiness. Emotions clearly lead only to hurt and irritation. Our fellow men can do without our love, and really, do we care? Do not let the potentially hurt feelings of another interfere with your quest for ultimate happiness through absolute indifference. Steel yourself against those sympathetic thoughts that creep into your mind to disrupt the perfect state you are creating. Squelch any gnawing guilt at your cold and uncaring attitude with frequent reminders that your happiness is at stake here. If it will help, tell yourself that you are simply ahead of the rest: if they did what you are working at, they would be much happier too. Then, as soon as you have reassured yourself, squash that disgusting compassion as thoroughly as you can. It is imperative that you not let it continue to get in your way.
            Consider this advice I have given. Think it over, imagine just how much happier you would be if you followed it. Let the tantalizing idea that you could permanently eliminate your unhappiness win you over. Then decide. Will you continue your miserable existence, tossed this way and that by a churning sea of emotions, torn to pieces by your feelings for others? Will you cast off those pesky emotional ties and emerge a cold, uncaring, and immeasurably happier person? The choice is yours. I do not care which you choose. No embracing or rejecting of my advice will have the slightest effect on me, for, remember, I do not care about you. Why should I care what you choose to do with yourself? If I did, though, I would urge you to do what I have suggested here.
            After all, what could possibly go wrong?

-Emma Foster

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


"In contemporary gamer culture, QQ has become the mainstream emoticon for crying eyes, though it is still often used in it's traditional sense." -Urban Dictionary
(There's actually a grammer, error in that excerpt. See if you can find it.)

            The church I went to before college was one that loved to do mission outreach on the "glocal" level. That’s global and local to those of you not "in the know." A large proportion of the youth regularly attended these mission trips or had their own projects in places less fortunate than our little corner of America where the recession barely blipped, and, upon return or via the Internet while still away, the most common statement made by my contemporaries was, “I have no right to complain because I have it so good compared to these guys.”
            That must feel nice, the ability to tell oneself that they live in a dream world with no real problems.
            Now, don’t misinterpret my extremely caustic statement. I’m an advocate of outreach, and I understand that, for the cost of a week of living where my folks do, a well providing clean water could be built for at least one village in a Third World country which would provide greater utility to more people than my having my own bedroom does. What I want to make clear to the very limited following QBA possesses is that problems over here don’t disappear because one knows of problems elsewhere.
            A tsunami half the world away does not make the deadline for those drafts any less concrete. A country where electricity is a luxury does not make your power going out any less annoying in the short run and unhealthy in the long run. Genocide does not mean your friend with an eating disorder is undeserving of the help you can provide.
            My personal favorite rebuttal to my worldview is this: you are so pessimistic; why not let people feel significant by worrying about problems greater than themselves? To proponents of that idea, I must ask how they can be so pessimistic. In essence, they destroy the idea of any individual being worth praise or recognition. The only greats in the world are giant problems that are chastised by many and fixed by few. I find it more respectable to work on what one can fix than what one can talk about.
            The idea of no complaints, if taken to its logical conclusion, ends up with the entire human population living in squalor. The first route taken is that every human makes the promise that they refuse to complain: when their home gets repossessed, when their workers stop showing up on time, when crime rates increase. Eventually, everyone’s lives have degraded because they couldn’t do anything to fix their conditions because one doesn’t fix something that isn’t broken, and to admit something is broken is to complain. Too many people are too greedy for this to happen, but it is the logical extreme of some groups' arguments. The other choice is to make all of mankind equal so no one has the right to complain because he or she has all the same amenities and opportunities as every other man or women… That’s Communism, which requires immoral redistribution of private property and destroys incentives to achieve, and this form would require the upper crust move to a mundane average which destroys any semblance of progress humanity could make.
            Teach the struggling nations about birth control and how to create mosquito nets, but don’t let such actions placate your need to fix your own problems as well. By all means, if you feel led by an adventurous spirit, sympathy for the human condition, or a religious calling, devote your life to the needs and situations of others, but don't forget your own needs. Paul, arguably the second most important figure in the New Testament, still had to devote his time to tent building to provide for his own needs while tending to others'.
            As always, please respond in the comments if you disagree or just want to tell me how cold and heartless I am for remembering my own problems while there are still other problems in the world.

-Jason Rossiter

Das Facebook. Dis Twitter.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stop Being Selfish, Eat More Babies.

  In my essay Idealism vs. Pragmatism, I mentioned that I had once argued with my whole AP World History class that the satirical essay A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, which lays out an argument for eating babies, was a good idea and should be enacted in those circumstances. If you have not read it, follow the link and take a gander. It's not too long, and it's insanely intelligent and entertaining. I shall write from now on under the assumption that you have read it.
  My argument rests on one solid fact: the babies would die anyway. In the circumstances laid out in the essay, the parents are not able to care for the babies due to their poverty and depravity. In fact, at that rate, not only would the babies die, but so would the parents. However, I would like to point out that, if we sacrifice the babies, the resulting food and products would benefit the rich while the money would save the parents' lives and, indeed, even bring them out of their squalor.
  I know what you're thinking: "But, Adarsh, that's KILLING BABIES! That's, like, literally the worst thing ever!" I would agree completely if the babies would be alive unless we killed them. The moral culpability of killing babies OBVIOUSLY outweighs the benefits of leather and money. However, the babies are as good as dead anyway. If you still refuse to kill the babies, that seems to be caused by selfishness on your part.
  Think about it, if either both the babies AND the parents will die, or just the babies will die, it seems to be the obviously more moral decision to save at least the parents. If you refuse to save at least the parents, it must be because you just don't want the blood on your own hands. It seems awfully selfish to me to let parents die just to keep your own conscience clean. Now, I've never had a problem with people being selfish, I always say, as long as they ACKNOWLEDGE that they are being selfish. Selfishness is in human nature. If you insist on keeping your conscience clean, that's fine by me.
  Now, that was slightly facetious of me. There is a morally relativistic approach to my argument that could be compellingly countered. Jason, the moral absolutist, would say that it's better to do nothing and let people die than to kill people to save people. Or he would at least say that both are equally morally bad, so you should "flip a coin" to decide which to act on. Personally, I think that that's a compelling argument for moral relativism. I'm pretty sure the parents would rather live if their babies will die either way, and "But I'm a moral absolutist," won't really be a valid excuse for them. Just a hunch.

Eat that baby, baby!
- Adarsh Nednur

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Afraid of Commitment

“She’s actually really nice once you get to know her.”
“He only acts like that around new people.” 

Common phrases you’re likely to hear after being verbally shat on by a friend of a friend whom you’d been asked to meet for the past 2 months. 

I’m convinced I was a sociology major in another life, because I too often catch myself brooding about the various aspects of interpersonal communication. My most recent epiphany concerns the two most loathed things in social interaction: cliques and initial unapproachability. I’ve deduced that both of these annoying occurrences arise from the prevalent pessimism and laziness associated with putting work into relationships or friendships that people are not 100% confident in. 

Cliques form because it is easier to seek out and hang out with similar-minded people than to extend one's attention to those one may not click with (ha) right off the bat. It’s natural to feel more comfortable and accepted around those that you’re sure will accept you. But where’s the fun in that? Those that form and interact only within their individual groups make the assumption that people with differing mentalities will be too hard to deal with, won’t benefit them as friends, and are therefore not worth the effort. They don’t want to make the effort to accommodate other personalities, because G-d forbid someone has a different opinion.

Others instead choose to put up social barriers and radiate initial un-approachability, that is, to act spunky and even b*tchy around new people. I believe this is done to initially weed out those that won’t deal with their attitude or those that don’t meet their ‘standards’, as well as to challenge their potential equals to face them and prove their ‘worthiness’. 
However, the flaw in this method is that it creates a dependence upon a confident, person unfazed by that individual’s attitude to overlook and attempt to break this barrier. As a girl, I’ve always been told to let guys approach me first, to never be the one to say the first word. This strategy leaves all the work to the guys and makes the assumption that they will be willing to do it. If everyone used the same technique of awaiting a knight in shining armor to rescue them from their own attitude, we would all be loners. I’m gonna go on a limb here and offend a good percentage of people by saying that I believe having an aloof attitude is the equivalent of have a neon sign with the words “I’m lazy, stuck up, and I’m gonna make you work for my attention” flashing above your head. Some believe this technique somehow lets them set higher standards for their potential friends, but I think it simply boils down to pure laziness. Also, this technique only works for those that have non-verbal appeal. Simply put, those that are hot and will be the targets of multiple solicitations without having to lift a finger.  

I’ve personally made it a policy to happily talk with anyone who feels up to it, and in all honesty, it gets hard sometimes. It often comes down to how well you can initially overlook minor disagreements and excuse possibly offensive passing comments. But let’s face it; very few people can make a perfect first impression. 
However, if you are able to get past the awkward first conversation, the benefits are plentiful. Befriending people from different backgrounds or differing opinions can teach us how to work with those that may not share our views, which we will encounter more often in school (and later, work) than not. Speaking of work, socializing with a wider variety of people can also potentially get you connected to various organizations and expose you to new opportunities, especially in college. Talking to a wider array of people can give us an insider’s look on different perspectives and introduce us to different topics we may have not thought about ourselves. 
This is why people fascinate me. Every person is the product of his or her life experiences and has a mountain of stories and advice to share. We can learn so much if we just listen.

Maybe I’m just way too forgiving of flaws that would stand out as red flags to most, but I never had the nerve to turn even the most annoying people away, because I know that they want to be heard and accepted just as much as I do. If nothing else, talking to more people and expanding your circle of friends can benefit us greatly in unpredictable ways.  Just the other day, a new friend of mine to whom I randomly started talking to in the dining hall offered me digital copies of 2 of my most expensive textbooks that I was yet to buy. I can now use the spare $300 to buy some overpriced UT merchandise. Yay!

So, dear reader, I challenge you to go out and expand your horizons. Start a conversation with a Starbucks barista. Say hi to that one shy kid at the back of the class. You never know, it may just change your life.


"On Wednesdays we wear pink." 

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Meaning of Life (Part I)

There are those who hate this question. They believe that such a question is a waste of time. I’m here to tell you that I am indifferent on the topic. I don’t think that it is a waste of time to ponder such a question. Isn’t it the ultimate aim of philosophy to bring us to this very same conclusion? At the same time of course it would be much more convenient to let the whole mess sort itself out.
         I can’t not go through this essay without mentioning my favorite number. 42 there I said it, though if one really wants to read into the 42 theory, I believe there is more than meets they eye. The conclusion of this idea we shall come to realize very shortly.
         Now for the cliché bit: life does not have one overarching single idea that can reveal the meaning of life, and to assume that would be such a concept is totally ludicrous. Can you imagine what wonderful shape the world would be in if there were just one flavor of existence? Choices are bad. Wouldn’t it be far easier if there were only one flavor cream of ice? Sadly much like ice cream life’s meaning is not cookie cutter. There is a flavor for everyone. It’s customizable, but certainly not user-friendly.
         For those who want life’s ultimate and true meaning to be handed to them on a silver platter, you are sorely out of luck. This is a topic that is easy to write about, because I am basically able to say. “Good luck guys. You’re on your own.” I should explain. Like I said life’s meaning isn’t cookie cutter. Vis-à-vis you’ve got to figure it out for yourself. For example I really like playing the saxophone. So for me playing the saxophone may be the highest peak of metaphysical and spiritual joy I can find. For the trumpet player this would be an unfortunate meaning, and this is precisely why each individual is responsible for discovering his or her own meaning.
         This is where 42 has it wrong. Hell, while we’re at it let’s just go ahead and say that it’s right as it well. The idea that there is a singular explanation for everything that life is, or isn’t there. 42 pokes fun at this, literally, at face value 42 stands as complete BS that deserves no consideration. If one looks deeper they will find that Douglas Adams perhaps meant to inspire people to go out and actually look for what they believe to be the meaning. For if 42 is the ultimate answer naturally there is an ultimate question. It’s up to you to figure that one out.

It isn't the answer however, because it isn't the answer it IS the answer 

Thus Spoke Grant 

The meaning of life is to like and follow us!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Atlas Shrugged for Dummies

            My greatest achievement so far and for many years to come has not been and will not be academic prowess, the progress toward any number of difficult goals, or being a professional musician while some of my contemporaries were still struggling to write in complete sentences; it will be that I have completed Ayn Rand's manifesto of Objectivism, her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. The novel is such a time commitment that even "Jack," our former connoisseur of literature and media, refused to touch it.
            In this post, I will reconcile Objectivism, a philosophy coined by Ayn Rand with the basic tenets of being in direct contact with reality and having one's end goal being personal happiness, and Christianity as well as provide a few personal conflicts I have with Rand's philosophy.
            The biggest conflict I must settle between Objectivism and religion (mainly Christianity since it is the only religion I know enough about to be any semblance of an authority on) is the fact that pure Objectivism denies any higher power. However, since Objectivism says one's happiness is the end goal, why wouldn't an eternity in Heaven be preferable to one in Hell? This also coincides with the ideas of egoism, a philosophy that states that one ought to do what works out best for them in the long run. If there is a chance of an afterlife that is better than anything that exists now, egoism would require an individual to strive to enter such a realm. And, if there is no God or afterlife, that is something we cannot prove. Objectivism states that we should work with the limited facts we do have. (Side note: Objectivism denies naïve realism on the grounds that it is impossible to prove that one's sensings of reality is truly reality. That's a great idea to blow your mind. You don't know that's a table; you only know that it seems like a table to you... Who needs drugs when you have thinking?) For me, those limited facts point toward all of existence being created by a supreme being that is the Abrahamic God, and the Bible is a source more reliable than any other work in the catalog of human literature to describe His nature. The Bible also often reinforces the Objectivist idea of never wavering in one's attempt to do their best. If you, oh reader, disagree, all the more power to you, and I sincerely hope you will point out the flaws in my arguments in the comments section below.
             Complete adherence to Objectivism should allow an individual to spend his or her time and resources on others (an idea actually contradictory to Objectivism on the surface) because doing so may bring about more immediate pleasure than hoarding money could (one can only buy so much stuff before it's more entertaining to see one's money help another than to buy another Porsche) and because helping others is a small part of the requested actions for an individual seeking to spend his or her afterlife in Heaven. (Not that those actions get one into Heaven, but they are expected of those who believe in Jesus, etc., etc. Contact me personally for a sermon; this essay isn't the place for it.) The point here is that one should have the ability but not the requirement to support others in any capacity he or she wishes.
             Two smaller but still relevant disagreements I have with Objectivism are on the views of love and need for government police and justice systems.
            Objectivism advocates romantic love while I believe love is glorified settling for a significant other who can meet one's needs and represents his or her goals, respected intangible attributes (sense of humor, intelligence, emotional volatility, etc.) and moral code. My view allows for the idea that there is more than one person in the world compatible with me; that seems logical given the current global population.
            Rand's position believes that there should still be a government run justice system to keep the police and the courts off the market. My rebuttal to that is the fact that having a government run justice system is exactly how one puts a price-tag on the law. Corporations put an almost unimaginable amount of money into political campaigns to insure that their ideals become the law.
             I would strongly suggest Atlas Shrugged to any soul willing to take on a real time drain of a book. For everyone else, here's the SparkNotes summary. There's no shame in not wanting to read 1,088 pages of talk of trains and scabs; I skipped a 100 page speech that was supposed to last 3 hours. I may be nerdy, but I still have the attention span of a 21st century teenager.

"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." -John Galt

-Jason Rossiter

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

The People's Choice Theory

How the ignorance of the masses is played upon by the pundits on the ballots

People cheer. Flags wave. Balloons fall. Economies groan.

A friend of mine (anonymous), on her trip to Spain, suffered from an attack by locals on her Geography skills, because as we all know, Americans are notoriously horrible with geography.

Yet, as is
not commonly known, Americans are notoriously horrible with economics.

The reasons for this are fairly simple; the economy is a complex system. Why would a factory worker in Detroit care about the supply of oil in Russia, or the opportunity cost of building trucks over cars? Why would a bartender in New York care about flooding near Thailand’s main computer hardware plants or the lack of electricity in Rural India? Why would a high school Senior at Bellaire who hasn’t even taken economics yet but gets to vote in the General Election this year care to look deeper into the complexities behind outsourcing and the production possibilities frontier?

As I quote Keynes, “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the
slaves of some defunct economist”. Knowledge of the intricacies of the world economy is restricted to the relative minority that takes the time and energy to explore it. However, this creates a devastating political tool for the pundits of our nation.

Enter the People’s Choice Theory of Economics. Because politicians want to be re-elected, they play on the ignorance of the masses and promise bad economic policies for the sole purpose of getting another handful of votes. Of course, politicians don’t care whether everyone understands their goals (understanding the method in every politician’s madness would require reading a book-per-pundit), so they make broad generalizations like “We will bring manufacturing jobs back to America!” and “We will get rid of unemployment in the next 4 years!”. That’s fine, if they could follow up on it (or if it were good economics).

Enter current events! Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both have vastly different economic plans, obviously. What isn’t so obvious is that both of them are promising policies that aren’t so good for us in the long term.

(NOTE: For a more detailed explanation of the quandary created by the differing economic policies by our two Presidential candidates, see the italicized portion at the bottom of the page.)

Essentially, Romney’s fiscal policy has the potential to cripple our ability to train more skilled workers (college, vocational school, public schools, etc.), while Obama’s promises to bring back manufacturing jobs to appease the unskilled middle-aged lower-middle-class is detrimental to our overall goal of increasing the standard of living over time.

Because of this, a basic understanding of the intricacies of the global economy goes a long way to helping us make proper choices on who to vote for. Sadly, as long as our citizens continue to agree to bad economic policies, politicians will continue offering them.

-Aadil Pappa

Lets start with Obama. In Thursday’s nomination acceptance speech, Obama promised to bring back manufacturing jobs from China and create new manufacturing jobs at home. That would be fine and dandy if it weren’t for the fact that we already have too many jobs. Does that sound crazy? Well, if you understand that those jobs are in the Service Sector, and require skilled labor, then it won’t.
“Why can’t people just take those jobs then?”
Because the unemployed need to be retrained to take jobs in accounting, coding, and other desk jobs that pay better, have more benefits and increase the standard of living higher than an assembly line job would.
Thus, outsourcing is okay, if we can safely transition to those jobs in what is called “job churn”.

Tl;Dr: If we let the making stuff jobs go away, we will have more people to do the thinking jobs that pay more.

Of course, Romney has made some bold claims too. Essentially, he intends to cut taxes and increase defense while reducing the government deficit (Bill Clinton: “It defies Arithmetic!”). The only way to do this is to cut other programs, namely education and infrastructure. Focusing on education, anyone who has been in public school in the past year knows that many Texas school districts are getting less federal funding soon. Romney may just have to cut that even more.

This brings us back to the outsourcing problem. If it takes more skills and education to do thinking jobs, then people will need to be more educated. But if we gut education and student loans, that means less people will get the opportunity to get educated, thus reducing the number of skilled workers we will have.

Tl:Dr: If we continue pumping resources into the “skin” and “muscle” of the American organism, then the “Brain” and “Heart” of the U.S. will be less healthy.

We are stuck in a quandary here; The People’s Choice Theory of Economics has royally messed up our chances of having a candidate that agrees with the basic laws of economics. Both candidates have good ideas, but they also have bad ideas. If we could take Obama’s education plan and Romney’s “job churn” scenario and put them in say, a 3rd candidate, I would vote for that guy.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

lol ttyl

  So, I have come to the conclusion that the reason I am such a big fan of digital conversation is the exact same reason I hate it so much. (Digital conversation meaning, of course, anything you read after someone types it out and sends it to you, like texts, Facebook chats, emails, stuff like that.)
  That reason is that, in mediums like that, you can make sure you present yourself exactly the way you want to present yourself, no more, no less.
  It's no secret that I'm not the biggest fan of myself. (Well, that might be false, since I doubt anyone else likes me any more than I do.) I relish the opportunity that texting gives me to make sure that I don't say anything unintentionally stupid and offensive, which I do ALL too often in person.* I love the ability to have some tangible level of control over what people think of me. Sure, I should have that in person as well, but I'm so much better spoken and calm and collected in text. I need the opportunity to control my own image. (Which explains one of the many reasons I use correct grammar in text conversations. Some others outlined in Jason's essay grammer,. But I digress.)

  *I would like to note that I almost typed "in real life" instead of "in person", and the fact that there's such a clear yet subconscious distinction between digital conversation and "real life" in my mind has a lot to do with what I have to talk about.

  I have peers (and many members of the elder generation as well) who say they hate digital conversation because they think people are losing the ability to have a conversation. However, I actually think the exact opposite is true; I hate digital conversation because I think people are way too good at having a conversation nowadays. It's been elevated to the level of an artform of accepted norms and conventions and few who break from that. You might say, "Oh, that's just you and your general intellectual overthinking of everything," but I don't think so. Someone tells a joke, you "lol" because it's polite, whether the joke was funny or not.
  This problem extends further than digital conversation, though. It is related to something they call "The Social Contract" on House M.D. The Social Contract (as spoken of in House M.D., not the political philosophy concept) is an unspoken agreement between people that little white lies or polite phrasings of thoughts and ideas are okay in everyday conversation if it makes the other person feel better and doesn't cost anyone involved anything. The thing is, I think that when you treat someone you care about a way that you don't want to or that isn't sincere, you reduce them to something less than a friend. An acquaintance at best.
  I have recently begun noticing the lack of conversations in person I have with even some of my best friends, and I want to change that; I think the chance of screwing up and actually saying what you meant rather than what you're supposed to say has to be an ever-present danger for you to be able to be yourself, and if we can't be ourselves we can't ever really connect to the people around us, which it is important to do.

Recommended Viewing for a subject similar to this: My Dinner With Andre. The whole movie is one long dinner-table conversation between two friends, but it's very interesting if you're part of the thinking population, and the conclusion reached by the end is very relevant.

The building blocks of the deterioration of human relationships

- Adarsh Nednur

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Game of Life

            Death is a funny thing. We spend most of our lives fleeing it with the full knowledge that it will catch up with us at some point. We delude ourselves into feeling that somehow death cannot touch us, that we will always be safe, that we will always be lucky in spite of all odds. It is strange that we can manage to simultaneously fear something and believe ourselves safe from it. I suppose it is the permanence, maybe; everything else in life can be altered and often is, but death cannot be changed. Such an absolute end is beyond comprehension.
            We are fascinated with the idea of life beyond death and the restoration of life to those who have died. Religion, of course, and countless literary works address it directly. The genres of fantasy and science fiction frequently depict worlds where death is less of a mystery, where it can be postponed or outright avoided. Ghosts, vampires, and zombies seem to me a manifestation of our desire for a return to the life we led before death and our simultaneous belief that if such a thing was possible, it would be inherently wrong, inherently at odds with life as it is and should be. What being born out of death in any work has ever been fully human? When has such an unnatural life form ever been allowed an existence that could be fully desired? An afterlife or a reincarnation seems not a bad alternative; if we cannot return to what we had, then at least we might gain entrance to something better. Picture after picture is painted for us by religion and authors of what awaits us after death, no one any more or less convincing than the last, but none able to quell that fear of the end that must come before the reward can be reached. Regardless of what we are promised waits for us after we die, we cling to life, shrinking away whenever the slightest shadow of death appears.
I could not honestly say that I do or do not believe in some sort of afterlife. I used to be convinced that death was a total obliteration of being, that there was nothing beyond it. Then I nearly drowned. Somehow, that made me much less certain. There is nothing like being unable to stop thinking about something to make you wonder whether you are actually right about it. Somewhere in the past year and a half or so, I came to the rather unimpressive understanding that, firstly, I did not want to die, but, secondly, I was going to, and thirdly, I did not want to waste my life worrying about it. I fear death – how could I not? – but a brush with it has made it seem more inevitable, and somehow that conviction that it is inescapable has made the idea less frightening to me. I do not want to die any time soon, but I refuse to let that cause me to hesitate at doing things I want to just because there is a chance I could die as a result, just because I almost died before. The only way I could influence how and when I die is suicide; it is impossible to prevent death, so refrain from actively tempting it, but why bother obsessing over fleeing it? As I said before, I possess no ideas about what will happen to me once I die, and I find that that makes little difference. Somehow the awareness and acceptance of my own mortality has made me somewhat happier. Strange that it should, but death is a strange thing.
Faced with death, would I fight? Of course I would. I would fight every step of the way. I may accept that death can take me at any time and that I can have virtually no say in when that time will be, but that does not mean that I will go willingly. Death will claim me eventually, but I intend to live as long and as fully as it is willing to let me. At the same time, if age and weakness rendered me unable to function on my own and as I wanted to, I cannot say that death would be entirely unwelcome. Regardless, when I die, if some part of my consciousness lives on, I intend to look Death in the eye and say, “Good game.” I may be doomed to lose, but I will enjoy playing without thought for the outcome. It is decided. Why not just enjoy the game?

-Emma Foster

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