It seems like a valid question. Is death necessary? Many people think it is. Others wonder.
To take the doubt away, I’d like to approach this question via another angle: what is necessary for life and would death be included? In other words, what do we need to stay alive? There are many elements necessary for life. Life does not require beauty, money or career success.
The real essentials include thing like food.
- We die without food. So, food is necessary for our lives.
- Water, too.
- We need a hospitable environment, one that is not too harsh on our limited bodies.
- We need other people. Now you may argue that, but it seems plain that (judging by their actions) most humans need and deeply long for a partner as well as some others to avoid successive trauma.
- We need air we can breathe.
- We need rest once in a while. We can’t work all the time.
- We need to relieve ourselves of toxins, waste and stresses of life.
- I believe we also need conscious awareness; otherwise we can’t take care of ourselves, adapt or evolve.
- We need to learn. If we don’t learn from mistakes, we could be killed by them.
- We need balance. Too much of anything will also threaten our equilibrium.
- And, of course, we need healthy bodies.
You might want to add some things, like love or joy, and I won’t make you argue that. And other possible additions to this list would probably fall under the areas above. But there are two other, very significant things missing from the list of essentials, things that we have observed and depended upon since the dawn of time: sex and death.
Do we really need sex and death to live?
The reason we need sex is to bring in replacements for those that have died. Or to boost our human resources in the advent of an epidemic that sickens a majority of the tribe. But if there was no death, our need of sex would be markedly diminished.
Why would we need death to live?
Some say we need death to make space for the new children. So, grandma has to die of old age and daddy has to die in a war to make room for other families’ babies?! That’s how that kind of logic plays out.
But making way for new children is not what death does. Look at the world population. How effective at population control has death been by getting rid of the old folks and (assuming “natural selection”) allowing the weak to die young? Birth control seems to be the more immediate and humane answer to population control.
Some say we need death because all things die. That’s like saying we need booze because everybody drinks it.
And everything does not die. Light and energy don’t die. Some plastics are indestructible. Love never dies, say the romantics. Some religions have heroes that have avoided death, living on forever. Time doesn’t die or cease. And really, just because flowers, ladybugs and bunnies die, does that mean they set the standard for human beings?
Is death necessary?
What good does death bring to human life?
The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that we need death to make for change. Perhaps Steve didn’t realize how much change he brought to the world by being alive.
Does death bring any other good?
I would argue that the death can be a sort of re-birth for the survivors. Look at all the good that has been done by people whose loved ones died from some crime, accident or disease, which created new laws, incentives and businesses to answer those stricken by such a loss. (I am collecting first person accounts of these people for a book. Let me know if you would like to be considered.)
But the achievements of people motivated by death is a different question. The vital question is not, “Is death a good thing?” The question is, “Is death necessary?” (I wanted to illustrate here that the two questions are different.)
I don’t see any reason how death could be necessary.
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Explore the category “The Ultimate Enemy.“