Erasmus wrote the excellent, funny “In Praise of Folly.” I am writing “In Praise of Death.”
Perhaps Erasmus had a different personality from mine.
My goal is to look at the positive side of death — to help decrease readers’ dread of it.
Death has potential benefits:
- Death can be a desirable alternative to destructive disorders such as advanced dementia and advanced ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). I read that a young woman who had ALS recently used physician-assisted suicide. I would not want to live in unremitting pain or in such gross disability that I had virtually no control over my cognitions and behavior.
- The risk of death helps us live more safely and sensibly. When we think of the grim reaper awaiting, we slow the car going into a sharp corner.
- The existence of death helps us keep goal directed and helps us procrastinate less. Time limits help us get things done.
- The reality of death helps us enjoy our time while alive. Imagine playing a game that never ended. Your zest would wane over time.
- Death provides more space for the living. Eight billion humans live on this spinning ball, with the number increasing all the time. The effects of our joint actions are wiping out other lifeforms.
I understand that most people follow the motto of Groucho Marx: “I intend to live forever, or die trying.” But loathe not the Grim Reaper. Like all reapers, he provides a service of sorts.