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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Death, life, and values

I could say that 34-years-old is starting to get depressingly old, but it is hard to feel sorry for oneself when 120,000 other people lost their lives without warning on my birthday.

The eschatologically-inclined must be getting very excited given events of the past 5 years: Y2K, 9/11, the start of WWIII (arguably), and now international tsunamis. But what is a rational psychological response to such things?

Death is clarifying, in the sense that it serves as a reminder to the survivors: life is important. Or more accurately: life is importance. There's nothing besides life to value, and there's nothing valuable except those things which are of actual value in one's life. To sum up with an axiom: Values are valuable. And this describes the motivation of many people rededicateing themselves to "what really matters" after 9/11 -- most often to family. Witnessing a catastrophic loss of life motivates a revaluation of values (to borrow from Neitzsche).

Such revaluation is rational if and only if it results in a rational hierarchy of values. Dedicating your life to Jesus after 9/11 is exactly the wrong thing to do.

But such revaluation should not be necessary, because one's values should be clear -- well thought-out, hierarchically organized, and strongly felt -- at all times, without need for some special motivation.

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