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Rosa Park

Student,

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Why live?

First of all, let me explain that I'm not depressed or suicidal in any way

The reason I'm posting this question is because I've previously posted the opposite question "What is the reason behind suicides?" and that made me question this.

Life as we know it is difficult. There are ups and downs and we face with conflicts daily. Some people's lives are more difficult than others. (ex: People who live in property) But then, what is their purpose in living?

Topics: better life
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  • Jun 6 2012: Why live?

    This is a very dangerous question. Its possible to see a very long list of good, positive answers, and then conclude that they all seem inadequate. Consider this: The people with the best answers might be much too busy living and accomplishing to be paying any attention to TED. They are very likely too busy to even consider this question. An analogy: Many songs about love are about love lost. That is because people who are in a good, loving relationship have better things to do than write songs.

    I live for several reasons.

    First, my family. I love them, I made a commitment to them.

    Second, my life is not as good as I would like it to be, but it is certainly tolerable.

    Third, if death is just nothingness, no afterlife, then death seems like it would be very boring. If I had suicided just a couple months ago, I would never have found TED, and TED has been wonderful.

    Fourth, I am not religious, but I strongly suspect that we will live a spiritual life after death. I doubt very much it will be either heaven or hell. I think there is a strong possibility that the spiritual life is where we do our real work, and our physical life is a vacation from that.

    Fifth, I am certain that I do not yet know my purpose for being here on Earth, and it would be terrible to suicide thinking that I might yet learn what it is. (It amuses me to consider various purposes. Perhaps my cosmic purpose is to write this reply for you.)

    I think every human being must find his or her own answer to this question, and it can change from day to day.
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    Jun 4 2012: Hi Rosa.
    Like you, this has been a big question for me since my youth. The answer, I believe, is; " It all depends on your Worldview".
    For my first 35 years I was ,I guess, an agnostic materialist (or something). Like most people, but much more interested in finding out. I reasoned that life was for living, but if it ever got too difficult, then suicide would be a logical choice. Death was the end, & life was, at best, a short period of activity. Evolution was as near as I could get to the mechanics of things, but I was disappointed that this was the best we could do in terms of science.
    At age 35 my whole perspective changed when I became a Christian. Life is still a short period of activity; but now it is in preparation for a much more awesome life to come. This life is a learning time, & sometimes it hurts. Suicide is now something evil that I will resist with all my being. It still may come to that, but the threshold is now very much higher.
    Many of my friends are now friends for eternity; that puts a whole new light on relationships. At last life makes perfect sense, & I will stretch it out as far as possible, but not be worried at the prospect of death; which is, after all, really only the beginning. How I wish you all could see it.

    :-)
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      Jun 4 2012: I agree with you. The way the world seems to you will in fact vary your reasonings and thoughts, ultimately changing the answer to this question.

      Personally speaking, I've been raised with the thought that suicide was evil (I was raised as a Christian). However as I grew up, I started questioning several things that this religion was not able to explain. And one of these questions was this.

      I'm glad that you've found the thing that helps you be stable and confident! Thank you for your answer.
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      Jun 5 2012: Hi Peter,
      Just wondering why suicide is evil, especially if terminally ill in chronic pain?
      Seems like life before death is less important if it is just a trial run for eternal life after death.
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        Jun 5 2012: Hi Obey.
        As far as I know, suicide is not mentioned in the bible. I have heard some folks say that you can't be saved if you commit suicide. I think they made that up, along with purgatory, etc etc.
        I see suicide as like murder, so let's look at murder. It is a sin because it goes against the will of God. We are also told that being angry can equate to murder. The thing is that a sin is a sin, biblically there doesn't appear to be a pecking order, if we have sinned in one, we have sinned in all.
        If your motive for murder is kindness, then I agree it; in my eyes, is a lesser sin than if your motive was selfish . Life is the gift of God, therefore if we take it to ourselves; we sin. However He looks on the heart ( motive ). So suicide is sin ( sin is evil ), but through Christ we are freed from the penalty.
        If I personally was in such pain that I chose suicide I certainly would have no concern regarding my eternal state. All that matters really is whether we accept that we are forgiven or not.

        :-)
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          Jun 6 2012: Thanks Peter. I also don't recall suicide specifically mentioned. I was wondering what your rationale is. Catholics have their own traditional view.

          I always sigh at the unnecessary pain from believing good and bad is whatever supernatural entity you believe is interpreted as saying whether it is good or bad for the human condition. However, I note you apply some human differentiation to motive and outcomes.

          If god whatever a god says or does is by definition holy and going against this is sin, then what happens when the rules and actions are actually evil if required by anyone else.
          What if your god is immoral, like the Aztec gods requiring human sacrifice?
          What if god says murder your Son?
          What if god says kill adulterers, naughty children, people working on saturday?
          What if your god says kill this tribe and take all their virgins?
          What if your god requires you to cut the ends off little boys penises?
          Do you see the problems with not questioning god given rules?
          What if your god sanctions slavery as long as they don't die with 2 days of a beating?
          What if your god is immoral by any reasonable standard except whatever god says is right?

          What if your version of god and god given rules conflicts with rules given by other gods?

          This is why I'm not opposed to people having different views but they need to have a non religious rationale if they are going to be reasonably discussed and debated with people with different views - and my god says doesn't work.

          It doesn't matter if someone thinks their god says women are property or do not have equal rights or that slavery is okay etc you need a sound ethical basis divorced of the rules and interpretations of various supernatural rulers.

          Suicide is nearly always sad. Calling it evil needs to be substantiated. You have via your faith, but in a way I can relate to.

          Saying that whatever a god requires is automatically moral and good even if it is abhorrent is a recipe for disaster.
        • Jun 7 2012: Peter you are so absolutely wrong about murder being against God's will. The Christian god demands it repeatedly in the Bible, especially the old Testament. I haven't got time to present more than one example and a link to many more... respectfully, how thoroughly have you read the book?

          http://www.evilbible.com/Murder.htm (provocative website name but the quotes are verbatim)

          "A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death." (Leviticus 20:27 NAB)

          OK, 2 examples:
          "Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children." (Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT)
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    Jun 7 2012: Waste not want not.
  • Jun 5 2012: I believe we live to replicate life. To broaden this statement I would like to add that reproduction is not the only way in which to do this. People who live to make society a place that where suffering, filth, poverty, war, disease, and oppression become far less prevalent are also replicating life. Life is absolutely nothing more than miserable at times and anyone who tells you different has probably not tasted desperate yet. I live for the challenge of staying firmly in the life drive (I refer to the life drive vs the death drive in relation to Sigmund Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle) I do believe that from birth to death there is always a force which wants to see matter return to its original form and there is another force which seeks to replicate life. That is the challenge of being human. Be grateful for what you have, someone always has a worse story and has found reason to live. This life is filled with all sorts of things that are nothing short of awe inspiring both horrible and beautiful. There is a reason for things like evolution if nature didn't want us to replicate life we wouldn't be able to. Nothing that is worthwhile has ever been or ever will be easy.
  • Jun 5 2012: Personally I live to experience this world and to marvel at how science is continously improving (for most part) our lives. I also am amaing at the technological progress we are making. The Internet rappidly changing our world and we are just at the begging.

    I am also lving for my family and friends.

    Finally there are so many good books, movies and things to talk about at places like TED =)
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    Jun 4 2012: Why to die ?

    My answer to the question is in my question
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    Jun 3 2012: To pass on our genes and to live life in a meaningful and ironic way
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    Jun 9 2012: I also wondered why we just have the impulse to keep living. What drives us to *live*? I asked my English teacher and she made this suggestion: "It usually hurts to die."
    True. :P Pain = sucky
    I think we're also afraid of not know exactly what happens in and after dying.. - Apparently some, if not all people actually do see a white light and do a life flashback AND feel extremely pleasant when dying. ;)!
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    Jun 7 2012: Hi Rosa:>)
    We are alive and in human form at the moment, so my goal is to do the best I can as a human. Sure there are challenges in the life experience. I don't remember anyone telling me that everything would be easy....did you? I believe life is about learning, growing and evolving as human beings, so...let's get on with it!

    You ask the question..."Why live?" I ask...why NOT truly live to the fullest in each and every moment?
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    Jun 4 2012: Because we don't want to die
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    Jun 4 2012: Live for those around you.

    On the topic of suicide, it has such a negative effect on those who care for you or even simply know you. You essentially leave everyone asking questions with no absolute truth.

    What could I have done?
    Why did they do it?

    Just four days ago my old neighbor/parents neighbor of 15 years just took her life a day after her 52nd birthday in the garage of her home. Her daughter found her.

    When my mother asked the police officer why she would do this and allow her daughter to find her, the officer said that she did not plan for her daughter to find her. I suspect there was a note of sorts possibly directed at her husband. No one in the neighborhood including her husband knew she had suicidal thoughts. Now she is left with a suffering family trying to tie lose ends that can never be tied.

    If she didn't have a gun where it was so easy to just pull the triger, would she have taken an extra second of thought and perhaps not done this?

    A few years back I had a friend take his life as well. I was left wondering such things as if the weather had been 5 degrees warmer or if it was sunny would that have been just enough to stop him from doing it?

    Trivial questions but everyone is hurt with no answer.

    WHY LIVE?

    Once again for those around you. In both instances I saw a great amount of love. In the most current, a tightening of a neighborhood bond. Everyone it seems was doing something to comfort the family. For those who weren't super tight-knight, and didn't want to interupt grieving it was something as simple as leaving a basket with food and a note on the door step.

    I believe that being human is a gift not to be taken for granted.

    Why be a Lemming?
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    Jun 4 2012: Well we didn't get to choose whether to live initially.
    But every day we get to choose whether we want to live or not.
    I note most people avoid death.
    Why not make the most of this short life.
    I understand if the pain and suffering is relentless.
    Life evolved as a struggle.
    Probably the best time ever in a global historical sense to live.
    Antibiotics. less wars. Secular government. Human rights. Sure not evenly distributed, but I suggest even the poorest 20% are better off than they were in the past say 50 years ago or a hundred etc (treating the current financial crises as a blip)
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      Jun 4 2012: So are you saying that people live because their living conditions are better today (compared to before) ?
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        Jun 4 2012: No I'm just saying life can be hard but for many of us but it is no worse than what others have lived through and perhaps better on average. For many it is the best time ever to be human. Life for non humans is even more of a struggle. Just saying we should appreciate it. Or at least have realistic expectations. Even the luckiest will face pain loss aging sickness and death. Our ancestors were the survivors often through tougher lives than we have now.

        Suggest life has more opportunity to experience good things than death.

        Also, we have evolved to try and survive. That is one reason we try avoid death.

        The meaning in life, the rational reasons for wanting to live are up to individuals.

        I guess for many they hope for things to improve or for more positive experiences if things are not so good.

        I completely understand that those in physical or emotional pain may want to cease existence.
  • Jun 3 2012: That is actually a pretty tough question! My best answer, I suppose, is that in the grand "river of time" we are only here for a tiny fraction, a tiny drop. So we might as well get what we can out of our short time here regardless of our priorities.
    It seems that humans are the only living thing to question existence and it's value, so I have to assume that suicide is more or less squandering a magnificent and relatively short-term gift. That said, if someone is utterly miserable and wants to end their life, could there not be a legal process that allows them to do it with dignity?
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    Josh S

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    Jun 3 2012: Depends what you believe.

    For the religous, the purpose varies but all revolves around the religion. In the case of Christians most would say to grow closer to God, this type of sentiment would probably be held by most spiritual people of all religions.

    For the scientists, the purpose is to have children who in turn will have children. - pass on your genes

    For people who just don't care about religion and don't believe the scientific purpose, it would probably be something along the lines of- live a good life in which you were succesfull, but had a full life in which they can die happily and peacefully.

    These are just my views and what i've experienced so i probably didnt cover every person and heavily generalized, but again, its the top 3 reasons i have heard.
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      Jun 4 2012: Thank you for your answer!

      What's your reason?
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        Josh S

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        Jun 4 2012: My personal reason is a mixture between the religous and the middle. I believe we should all live meaningful lives and try to be succesfull but in the end our relationship with God is the most important. I most certainly am not a religous fanatic or a holy-roller or anything of that type, but still believe it. Unfrotunately, i think the scientific view is also the most logical though. While i think it is true, i don't want to base my life views on it. It is too depressing, to only live to reproduce and then you are worthless.
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    Jun 3 2012: Rosa, I'm glad you qualified this question - I was rather worried about you.

    We live becasue we have life within us - each morning we wake up, until it's our time to die. Every life is different with different challenges. We grow as time goes by - learning life's lessons. However, for those who do not see, life can seen futile.