Letter to the editor:
Death is a very intriguing phenomenon we must live with every day of our lives. Unless you can afford to sit restlessly inside your living compartments, chances are you will be put into a position to come to your untimely, or unnecessary, loss of life. What seems like normal, everyday exercises — going to get gas, making a deposit at a bank, sending a child off to school, heading to the mall for a quick trip to the shoe store, checking out the newest movie, or possibly even driving your vehicle to no purposeful destination — can all be deemed as giving you the last chance to live here on Earth.
But why is that so? As a society in whole, we are driven by an all-day, everyday onslaught of mass hysterical media that coincides with the outrageous notion of death being around every corner. I now know countless people who have told me relentlessly they will not go see a midnight movie anymore. How could that be? Are ticket prices for early releases that much more costly? No, it’s because of a recent shooting and terrible killing in Aurora, Colo., where a deranged man decided it was best to end others’ lives. This has driven some people to believe that they have the same chance to be killed as those who have previously died in theater shootings. An anomaly such as this has led people to honestly believe the next time they step into the movies, they could possibly die. How frightening, when thinking logically, does that sound? I can think of dozens of thoughts I have had while walking in to watch a movie and worrying about a person coming in with a gun has never crossed my mind.
While I disagree wholly with this notion that what happened somewhere else will eventually happen to me, I couple my assessment of people’s conclusions to the basis of one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s most famous lines which said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” What never ceases to amaze me are the utter irrationalities that people rush to conclude before contemplating what they say out loud for others to hear. “Don’t go to that part of neighborhood or you will probably get shot.” “I will never fly again after what happened on 9/11.” The list goes on and on. There are more phobias and fears than we can imagine and possessing these can undermine how we choose to live our daily lives.
Let’s focus on one of my favorites: “I will not fly after what happened on 9/11.” As those who understand the psyche of human reactions, what came to be expected after those planes crashed into the World Trade Center was people would end their voyages to the air and rather travel by car across the vast major highways our country provides. “The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain,” written by Daniel Gardner, touches on the subject of flying versus driving in thorough fashion. Many people decided driving was the best, safest and most reliable means of transportation they could use in order to avoid the greater chance of dying. This notion that driving a car, either cross-country or to work every day, is safer than flying in a plane is preposterous on so many levels. With annual U.S. deaths in car crashes hovering around almost 40,000, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, the chances of dying every time you decide to put the key into ignition is significantly higher than the chance of dying in an airplane crash.
Although the chances of dying in a car crash are definitively higher than dying in a plane crash, people allowed one event to distract us from the one thing we should never slip through our brains: rational thinking. Which brings me to my point: I have decided I will never live my life in the fear of dying but rather I will forever have a fear of living. I believe these crazy, non-linear occurrences of people killing each other in places where humans should not be killed are rarely capable of happening and I will not allow myself to facilitate fear the right to control what I do on a daily basis.
We all are going to die, it is just a matter of time. When my time has decided to come to a close, I will want to know before my last seconds on this planet that my actions prior to my last breath have somehow made a lasting impression on something other than my life itself. My fear of living is driven by what should be one of humans’ biggest goals: leaving behind a lasting legacy which people can remember you by. There are plenty of avenues you can choose to go down, it’s just we have to be able to look deep into our hearts and decide which choices are the ones we should make. That is the beauty of choice: once you have made them, then there is nothing you can do to take it back. The fear of living is a conscience decision I have made and I hope my fear will drive me to be the person I am destined to become. Living in fear of death never has been and never will exist in my life, I have too many other things to worry about.
Fifth-year in journalism