Do You Value Your Life?
Does it make sense to endanger life by taking unnecessary risks? Why should a person care?
LIFE is a most precious possession. With it we can enjoy many things. Without it we cannot enjoy a single thing.
True, life brings difficulties. But, in spite of this, everyone in his right mind wants to live. People prefer life to death.
However, more and more persons are disillusioned with the way things are going in this world. In addition to personal problems, they see mounting troubles nearly everywhere they look—wars, skyrocketing crime rates, inflation, racial tensions, poverty, hunger. All this has a depressing effect. Many look for a way of escape.
Some find this escape in doing things that they feel will give them ‘kicks.’ They seek thrills to offset the unpleasant world in which they live. This is especially the case with many young people. Increasing numbers of them feel that there is nothing to live for but to ‘eat, drink and be merry.’
In the search for thrills, some go to the extent of participating in ‘suicide’ games. One such is to drive cars at high speed directly at each other. Whoever swerves first is ‘chicken.’ Others play ‘Russian roulette,’ where one bullet is put into a revolver, its chamber rotated, and the trigger pulled. Probably you have seen reports in the press of injury and death caused by such ‘games.’
Most people want life to be more interesting. But is serious injury or death a way to improve the situation? However small one’s enjoyment of life may have been before, it is going to be smaller after a serious injury, and nonexistent after death. In death, the Bible shows, “there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom.” God’s Word adds: “As for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.”—Eccl. 9:5, 10.
Of course, few people play ‘chicken’ or ‘Russian roulette.’ But many persons come alarmingly close to it in their normal driving habits. Statistics show that the two major causes of death and injury in automobile accidents are: (1) Exceeding the speed limit; and (2) reckless driving. These account for a huge proportion of the more than 50,000 killed and several million injured each year in automobile accidents in the United States alone.
What about the driving habits of young persons? The publication Attitudes and Platitudes states: “The record of young drivers looks particularly bad. To make their record look worse, young drivers have consistently been involved in a higher percentage of fatal accidents than nonfatal accidents.” Time magazine reports: “Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for young men between 16 and 24. Although young male drivers amount to only one-eighth of all registered drivers, they are responsible for a third of all fatal accidents.” This is why insurance premiums are so much higher for young drivers.
Young people want others to “tell it like it is.” The truth is that young drivers are being killed in epidemic proportions. In fact, each year more young drivers are killed in the United States in automobile accidents than are killed in the Vietnam war!
Researcher Dr. Stanley Schuman said: “The most dangerous young male driver is one alone in his car, because he will take amazing chances alone.” It was found that young male drivers often use the car as an instrument of ‘expression’ to gain relief from some problem at school, home or work.
But will causing more problems solve others? And causing more problems is precisely what happens to a growing percentage of those who seek thrills or work out frustrations when driving. More and more of them are becoming involved in crippling and fatal accidents. How many thrills can one enjoy if he is disabled or killed?
A practice becoming ever more widespread is the taking of drugs for ‘kicks’ and to escape from reality. But does it really accomplish these things?
At first, it may seem to. But sooner or later, the ‘kicks’ are deadened, and the reality is made much worse. These consequences come inevitably; they cannot be avoided. If life had few thrills and was difficult to cope with before taking drugs, it contains even fewer thrills and becomes far more difficult after becoming addicted to drugs.
This is true in many ways. For one thing, the drug addict finds his health deteriorating. He is less able to enjoy simple pleasures such as eating and drinking, which in moderation can be a delight. Many drug addicts steal, cheat and lie to get money to pay for their expensive habit. In this process they may even injure or kill persons in holdups. They are constantly in fear of the police. And for increasing numbers, it results in an agonizing death. The New York Times reported: “In 1966, there were 33 teen-agers who died in New York after taking heroin. Last year the number rose to 72. But in three months—June, July and August—71 died this year.”
Ask any longtime drug addict if his life has been improved by his taking drugs. If he answers truthfully, he will admit that it has not. How could it be otherwise? Do conflict with the law, stealing, jail sentences, broken health and anguish add to one’s happiness in life? Does taking drugs to escape reality make sense when the reality is made much worse by doing so?
The word “sport” signifies, according to one dictionary, “diversion; recreation; pleasant pastime.” But would you regard activities that involve maiming and killing as pleasant recreation? Some “sports” involve just such a disregard for the value of life.
Boxing, or prize fighting, shows contempt for the gift of life. its purpose is to hurt, to render senseless one’s opponent. While this may seem to young persons a way to fame and fortune regardless of injuries incurred or inflicted, ask yourself: Of the many thousands who have been boxers over the years, how many can you name who won fame and fortune? Very few. But many are those who have been beaten senseless and maimed mentally as well as physically. Some have been killed as a direct result of blows in the ring.
In no way could this “sport” be considered showing respect for life. Jesus Christ said: “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.” (Luke 6:31) Do you want someone to pound you with his fists until you are unconscious? Then should you do that to him if you value the gift of life?
Wrestling is considered a “safe” sport by many. Yet, the intent is to do, or give the appearance of doing, physical damage to another. And it often results in injury. In England, a famous wrestler who recently quit upon becoming one of Jehovah’s witnesses acknowledged this when he said: “I can’t go on hurting people. It’s wrong. I know that a lot of it is showmanship but sometimes we do get hurt. Sometimes I hurt people. Instead I should show love and kindness.”
Even more dangerous to life and limb are some other activities labeled as “sports.”
One such is automobile racing. Vehicles are pushed to the highest possible speeds. But accidents occur regularly as vehicles go out of control, their drivers being maimed or killed. In the Grand Prix of Italy one year, a famous international driver was killed when his racer vaulted off the track. But it did not end there. His car plunged into a mass of spectators and fifteen of them were killed, others being injured. And a racing car that plunged into spectators at Le Mans, France, killed 85 people!
Mountain climbing is a popular “sport” with many. By mountain climbing we do not refer to the hiking on safe trails engaged in by millions of people all over the world. We refer to the kind where ropes and pegs and other special equipment are needed, where mountain faces and icy peaks are scaled. One tragedy on Mount McKinley, North America’s highest peak, took the lives of seven out of a team of twelve climbers. After the disaster, one expert said: “It’s amazing more people haven’t been killed on McKinley when you consider 400 are killed in the Alps every summer.”
Additionally, in mountain climbing some come away with frozen fingers or toes that have to be amputated. Or due to a fall they may be confined to bed for weeks, even months, with broken limbs, perhaps being permanently disabled. Is this the way to increase one’s enjoyment of life? With the threat of serious injury or death ever present, would you say that this “sport” shows proper respect for the gift of life? Would it not be better to stay on safe trails and enjoy the majestic mountain creation of God year after year?
Tens of thousands participate in the “sport” of skydiving. They jump out of an airplane high in the air, fall free for a while at speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour, then pull the rip cord of their parachute. In one jump, eighteen sky divers were released at an altitude of 20,000 feet. Down they plummeted in a free fall at a speed of 125 miles an hour into a cloud cover at 4,000 feet. When they broke through this cloud cover, they found to their horror that they had been released over the wrong spot. They were above the angry waves of Lake Erie instead of being over a landing field. Sixteen out of the eighteen drowned. One of the two survivors stated: “I won’t jump again.”
What is often ignored when taking needless risks is that it is not just the participant who can be hurt. Many times it is others who are injured or killed, including persons who do value their lives highly. Too, what of the anguish that comes to relatives or loved ones of those who are injured or killed when taking unnecessary risks? What will they do? To a large extent their lives may be ruined too.
You may be a person who does not take unnecessary risks with your life. You may have a high regard for its value. But in a related matter, how do you feel about “practical jokes”? Some persons often resort to these as a means of getting ‘kicks.’ Do you feel that such considers the welfare of others?
For instance, do you feel it is considerate of others to pull the chair out from under someone just before he sits down? True, this often gets a laugh. But it has also resulted in permanent injury. If it were done to you, and others laughed at you while you were in pain and embarrassment, would you regard it as “practical”? How much better a feeling is left by those who kindly put chairs under people when they are being seated, as at a table!
There are those who may not think anything of pushing someone’s head down while one is drinking water from a fountain. But this has caused injury to the mouth and teeth. Would it not bring more joy for all to hold the fountain open for someone else instead? Then, some feel it is a joke to frighten others. But this has resulted in provoking a heart attack in some victims.
The playing of such “jokes” that result in embarrassment, injury and perhaps even loss of life, is not really considering the welfare of others. Indeed, the Bible states: “Just like someone mad that is shooting fiery missiles, arrows and death, so is the man that has tricked his fellow man and has said: ‘Was I not having fun?’” No one who values God’s viewpoint wants to be classed with “someone mad.”—Prov. 26:18, 19.
Most Unwise Now
Especially now is it most unwise to take any unnecessary risk with life, yours or another person’s. Why now, more than ever? Because God’s inspired prophetic Word clearly shows that we are nearing the end of this wicked system of things. Soon, it will be brought to an end by a direct act of God. (Zeph. 3:8) After that, he will bring in an entirely new order free from the distressing conditions of today.—2 Pet. 3:10-13.
Jehovah God also provides a government for his new order, one government, ruling from heaven. That government really cares about people on earth. It will work for the eternal benefit of all its subjects, providing benefits no human government can provide—health, happiness, interesting and productive work, an end to war and racial tensions, an end to poverty, hunger and even death itself. That government, or kingdom, is the one for which Jesus Christ taught his followers to pray.—Matt. 6:9, 10.
Therefore, the person who wants to live in God’s incoming new order will not endanger his life by engaging in activities just for ‘kicks’ or ‘thrills.’ He will appreciate that he needs to serve God to receive the reward of eternal life: “He that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:17) He realizes that he cannot serve God very well if he is maimed. And he cannot serve God at all if he is killed in some unnecessary activity.
Do you value your life? Do you want eternal life when paradise is restored to the earth? Then appreciate that the Giver of life, the One who is the Giver of eternal life, Jehovah God, should get first claim on your health and life. (Acts 17:24, 25; Rom. 6:23) Thus, value your life. Preserve it to the best of your ability. Appreciate that God holds you accountable for how you use the precious gift of life
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Is taking chances like this showing respect for the lives of others?
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Does taking drugs make life more thrilling—or more difficult?
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One blow can knock you senseless—or kill you. Is this Christian?
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Sixteen out of a group of eighteen thrill-seeking sky divers who landed in water drowned
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Has such a fall ever happened to you? Did you think it was funny? Could it have led to injury?