The Fragility of Life
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21-10-2012, 02:10 PM
RE: The Fragility of Life
I've just watched the BBC documentary posted by Matt.

Damn, I miss the Beeb!

It's a couple more pieces in my jigsaw of self-discovery...
I do not have a problem with death and I don't have any pictures of any of my family (living or dead).
I never saw a connection before.

Cheers, Ghosty.

And, of course, the cross means nothing to me but that goes without saying.

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21-10-2012, 04:48 PM (This post was last modified: 21-10-2012 04:53 PM by cufflink.)
RE: The Fragility of Life
Some musings on your OP, DW:

(21-10-2012 09:25 AM)DreamWeaver Wrote:  I guess it really shouldn't upset me so much; I didn't know the man. But the truth is that it really does bother me, especially since I don't believe in an afterlife. It sort of shocked me...the way that life can end so quickly.

And yet the data was there all along. Pick up a newspaper, check an online news site, turn on the TV. We're bombarded with evidence of the fragility of life. A drunken wrong-way driver smashes into an SUV on a highway and a whole family is gone. A school bus careens off a mountain road and 30 kids die. A madman shoots up a movie theater and instantly snuffs out the lives of a dozen people. A four-year-old girl is caught in the crossfire of warring gangs and takes a bullet to the head. An earthquake in Iran levels a village and kills thousands. A tsunami in Asia wipes out hundreds of thousands.

Yet we can go through our lives not being shocked by such things. Saddened, yes, but usually not shocked with a punch-in-the-gut realization of the fragility of life. The people affected are far from us and not part of our own experience. They're names in a paragraph, images on a screen. So we shake our heads for a moment or two and then get on with our own lives.

I imagine evolutionists would say this is adaptive. If we constantly dwelled on the fragility of life--on how we risk instant oblivion every time we get into a car, walk on the street, eat a steak--we probably couldn't get on with our lives. So we erect defensive walls to keep the dangerous thoughts at a distance: although we know intellectually that we're just as vulnerable as anyone else, on an emotional level we can feel that the terrible things happen to the far-away "them," not to the here-and-now "us." It's only when the horror strikes close to home--when our family, friends, loved ones are involved--that the defensive walls are breached and we experience the shock of recognition: our lives, all of our lives, are as fragile as cut glass and can smash to the floor in a thousand pieces at any time.

None of the above is meant to be a criticism in any way, DW--just an observation about how we all function as human beings.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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21-10-2012, 06:04 PM
RE: The Fragility of Life
(21-10-2012 04:48 PM)cufflink Wrote:  Some musings on your OP, DW:

(21-10-2012 09:25 AM)DreamWeaver Wrote:  I guess it really shouldn't upset me so much; I didn't know the man. But the truth is that it really does bother me, especially since I don't believe in an afterlife. It sort of shocked me...the way that life can end so quickly.

I imagine evolutionists would say this is adaptive. If we constantly dwelled on the fragility of life--on how we risk instant oblivion every time we get into a car, walk on the street, eat a steak--we probably couldn't get on with our lives. So we erect defensive walls to keep the dangerous thoughts at a distance: although we know intellectually that we're just as vulnerable as anyone else, on an emotional level we can feel that the terrible things happen to the far-away "them," not to the here-and-now "us." It's only when the horror strikes close to home--when our family, friends, loved ones are involved--that the defensive walls are breached and we experience the shock of recognition: our lives, all of our lives, are as fragile as cut glass and can smash to the floor in a thousand pieces at any time.

I've never really thought of it that way before...but come to think of it, you're probably right. Everyone can see the statistics, but no one seems to think that it could ever happen to them.

"Leave the atom alone."
-E.Y. Harburgh
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21-10-2012, 06:06 PM
RE: The Fragility of Life
(21-10-2012 10:42 AM)Ghost Wrote:  I'm curious though. Why does it sicken you so? And what would you prefer if it weren't so?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

Well, I guess its just the fact that we're so fooled by these delusions of a life after death that we spend too much time thinking about getting there rather than actually living. ...If that makes any sense.

"Leave the atom alone."
-E.Y. Harburgh
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21-10-2012, 10:29 PM
RE: The Fragility of Life
(21-10-2012 04:48 PM)cufflink Wrote:  Some musings on your OP, DW:

(21-10-2012 09:25 AM)DreamWeaver Wrote:  I guess it really shouldn't upset me so much; I didn't know the man. But the truth is that it really does bother me, especially since I don't believe in an afterlife. It sort of shocked me...the way that life can end so quickly.

And yet the data was there all along. Pick up a newspaper, check an online news site, turn on the TV. We're bombarded with evidence of the fragility of life. A drunken wrong-way driver smashes into an SUV on a highway and a whole family is gone. A school bus careens off a mountain road and 30 kids die. A madman shoots up a movie theater and instantly snuffs out the lives of a dozen people. A four-year-old girl is caught in the crossfire of warring gangs and takes a bullet to the head. An earthquake in Iran levels a village and kills thousands. A tsunami in Asia wipes out hundreds of thousands.

Yet we can go through our lives not being shocked by such things. Saddened, yes, but usually not shocked with a punch-in-the-gut realization of the fragility of life. The people affected are far from us and not part of our own experience. They're names in a paragraph, images on a screen. So we shake our heads for a moment or two and then get on with our own lives.

I imagine evolutionists would say this is adaptive. If we constantly dwelled on the fragility of life--on how we risk instant oblivion every time we get into a car, walk on the street, eat a steak--we probably couldn't get on with our lives. So we erect defensive walls to keep the dangerous thoughts at a distance: although we know intellectually that we're just as vulnerable as anyone else, on an emotional level we can feel that the terrible things happen to the far-away "them," not to the here-and-now "us." It's only when the horror strikes close to home--when our family, friends, loved ones are involved--that the defensive walls are breached and we experience the shock of recognition: our lives, all of our lives, are as fragile as cut glass and can smash to the floor in a thousand pieces at any time.

None of the above is meant to be a criticism in any way, DW--just an observation about how we all function as human beings.


Good points, well made.

I've made the comment elsewhere (and I wrote half a short book some years ago (The Human A-Z)) that we behave like Ants or Zebras (or Elephants, Lions or Meerkats) depending on the societal-level of the group we connect to.

I know it's not wise to anthropomorphise but it was for example purposes only.

Most people I know behave like zebras when a fellow zebra gets munched.... panic, flight, nothing to see here, mmm nice grass.

Others may act like ants... what's that? squashed ant? move it out of the way.

We are more ant-like in business, more zebra-like in our apartment block but more lion-like after we have children of our own.

The higher the social in-group (multi-national company, football team, country, religion) the more dispassionate we become towards others' harm.

It's the reason why capital punishment is wrong...
... unless you touch my family!!!!

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22-10-2012, 12:14 AM
RE: The Fragility of Life
It depends on how you define fragile. In one aspect, sure life is fragile and easy to lose. A man inhales a piece of steak and dies from choking on it, life in this case is fragile. Look at the recent shooting victim that survived being shot in the head. Sounds like she will end up making a full recovery eventually. How about the drunk drivers that survive terrible car wrecks while the people in the car they hit die, all because they were to blind drunk to foresee the accident (murder) in advance. In these cases life is far less fragile than it might appear, because people that should have died did not.
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22-10-2012, 12:43 AM
RE: The Fragility of Life
I have dreamt of how great it would be to live a thousand years, or ten thousand, but then realize no amount of time would be sufficient to please me. I would always want more time to do all the things that I have yet to do. Having an immortal afterlife is very appealing to me, but alas, I do not believe things are simply because I want them to be. Logic tells me that an afterlife is in all likelihood just wishful thinking. It would be great if I were wrong, but I have no intention of getting my hopes up. Life is fragile, violent, and short, but I am happy to have lived.

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22-10-2012, 07:30 AM
RE: The Fragility of Life
Death is the great existential crisis of humanity. People deal with it differently and no one really has the right to tell someone how to deal with it. If one day there is empirical data that proves that one way is better than another, then people will have a case. Since that evidence does not exist, then we have to accept that different cultures deal with this particular existential crisis in different ways.

Hey, DW.

Quote:Well, I guess its just the fact that we're so fooled by these delusions of a life after death that we spend too much time thinking about getting there rather than actually living. ...If that makes any sense.

It makes sense. I don't personally know any Christians who are racing to shuffle off this mortal coil, but I'm sure there are those people.

A fine philosophy of life is we only get one life so make the most of it. But I have a friend who is a devout Baptist evangelical Biblical literalist who believes in both Heaven and the Rapture who leads an intensely fulfilling life.

Positive psychology tells us that the good life isn't just experience (sex, food, travel, fame) and isn't just mastery (becoming skilled and experiencing flow) but also being part of something larger than one's self, which devotion to religion most certainly provides people.

Anyhoo, I see what you mean now by sickened. Thank you.

Hey, DLJ.

Thanks for the props (and the kind word Cool ).

Quote: The higher the social in-group (multi-national company, football team, country, religion) the more dispassionate we become towards others' harm.

I would be VERY interested to learn more about this perspective. Would you be willing to start another thread about it?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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22-10-2012, 08:21 AM
RE: The Fragility of Life
(22-10-2012 07:30 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, DLJ.

Thanks for the props (and the kind word Cool ).

Quote: The higher the social in-group (multi-national company, football team, country, religion) the more dispassionate we become towards others' harm.

I would be VERY interested to learn more about this perspective. Would you be willing to start another thread about it?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

Jeez Matt, you're the meme queen (was gonna say king but I liked the rhyme) and my candle is held well away from you.

But yeah, ok.

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22-10-2012, 10:51 AM
RE: The Fragility of Life
Anyone else here have those weird dreams where you live a whole life inside of it. I hate them, but good things sometimes come of them.

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.

You cannot successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to butter.
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