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Penetrating the Circle of Death: Why People are Dying (and Killing) Not to Die

Penetrating the Circle of Death: Why People are Dying (and Killing) Not to Die

Martin Luther King Jr., the social activist who represents for many the ideal of a meaningful life, foreshadowed his own assassination when he said, "A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live." These words may resonate with us, but Woody Allen spoke for many of us as well when he said, "I’m not afraid of dying – I just don’t want to be there when it happens." The idea of death occupies a unique place in our minds: it is both the sum of all fears and a kind of golden standard by which we measure an individual’s commitment to an ideal. We honor and understand King Jr.’s sacrifice insofar as almost all of us possess ideals for which we believe we would give everything, whether it’s the love of our children, fighting oppression in a foreign country, or protecting our personal freedoms. Yet we empathize with Allen because death seems like a terrifying and unfair fate for us, instilled as we are not only with drives toward self-preservation (we seek food when hungry, react quickly to external threats), but also an advanced consciousness that harbors love and a fear of loss for many aspects of our lives. / more

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