I have an embarassing confession to make, but I shall try backing it up with some logic.
I don’t think I shall be able to die wilfully for a cause, no matter how serious that cause might be, or however important to me.
If you tell me to choose between my life and my girlfriend’s life, I shall choose mine.
If you tell me to choose between me and my family, I shall choose to live.
If you tell me to choose between me and my friends, I shall choose to live.
If you tell me that if I choose to live, almost all of humankind will be decimated, I shall choose to live.
If you tell me that my death will somehow lead to the discovery of the Grand Unified Theory, I shall live. Even if I am remembered by posterity for helping discover the theory.
If you tell me that my living will cause the natural balance of planet Earth to be destabilized and there will be mass extinction and rivers will run dry and the Earth will become a shattered vestige, I shall choose to live.
It appears to me that there is absolutely no cause for which I am willing to die.
Now that you have formed the meanest of images of me, I would like to state a few additional facts.
My girlfriend is very important to me. So is my family, and my friends. I frankly don’t care much about humankind. But I care about planet Earth and other species.
That’s a fact. And I also care about the discovery of GUT.
If ever I am faced with such choices, it will be a very, very difficult time for me. I wouldn’t like to choose either option. I would only be choosing whatever would matter to me more. That doesn’t mean I want that other shit to happen. It would hurt me terribly to see my girlfriend or my family, or friends, or animals and plants dying because of me. The rest of my life will be spent in great remorse. That’s a fact.
Now let’s come to the crux of the matter: why then would I choose to live?
The logic, for me, is simple.
The fact that my girlfriend, or my family, or my friends, or the entire biodiversity, survives, ceases to matter the moment I die. So if I die, it’s as good as them being dead. But with an additional catch: I am dead too. (This postulate follows from my idea of death, which says that everything I have encountered in life will cease to matter beyond it.) So instead of virtually killing both, I choose to keep myself alive.
Now you will argue, ‘But they are really not dead. They are alive. They survive you. They are still roaming the Earth after you are gone.’ Yes, true. But as far as I am concerned, that knowledge is irrelevant. I am dead to them, therefore to me so are they. Now you will argue, ‘But why do you look at it from your point of view? If you look at it from an external point of view, it’s a lot better if, say, entire humanity gets to survive in exchange of one individual.’ True. But it’s my decision. And when I make a decision, I shall maximize my gain. That may sound selfish, but it makes sense to me. Don’t get me wrong, my girlfriend’s survival is also a huge gain to me, but only when I myself am alive. If I am dead, her survival or death makes no difference.
Similarly, I cannot die for a noble cause because that cause will cease to matter to me the moment I die. So what had seemed as an excellent alibi to die up to the last moment of my life will become absurd the moment I am dead. And don’t talk to me about glory and valour. I don’t give a hang how much people will glorify and hero-worship me after I am dead.
Ergo, I choose to live.
There’s a slight footnote here, an exception. In some of the cases, for example the family, friends or girlfriend or biodiversity case, I would be in terrible pain the rest of my life. Now, I really have no idea of the extent of that sort of pain. If someday I get to feel such pain, or some other, physical pain that I might need to suffer the rest of my life, and if that pain is too much for me, I might choose death.
For example, some time back an anesthetic injection was stuck into my behind right on top of a bacterial infection. For a few moments, it was excruciating. I guess that is the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life. I consider myself lucky that I haven’t felt worse pains. Anyway, if I have to live with such a pain every moment of the entire rest of my life, I think I would choose to die.
And yes, I can’t figure out how some people agree to die for a cause. Like, for example, my girlfriend told me she could die for me. Okay, that one, it made me feel very small. And my roommate said he could die for a cause. That’s how this whole chain of thoughts started in my mind anyway. Maybe it’s a manifestation of the values they have been taught all their life. Maybe mine, too, is the manifestation of a different value system. Maybe all the ‘rational and logical explanation’ that I just gave is just a subconscious effort to justify my decision. Perhaps these other people that I talk about, those ready to die, have their own ‘rational and logical explanations’ for their euthanesia, that might completely stump me. Anyway, I just needed to get it out of my system, because it is a source of guilt. And now I have done it.