If you had die for one thing and one thing only, what would you choose?  Your friends?  Your parents?  Your children?  Your country?  How do we, as a logical society, decide how someone should give up their life?


In Western culture, we believe in the preservation and the presentation
of youth.  A parent should die for their child; but a child should never
give up their life for a parent because it turns the evolution of
forward human progress on its head — except, of course, when it comes
to war — then any child is appropriate fodder for the nationalist
cannon on foreign soil. 

The Incas first fatted their virginal young before dumping them into a volcano to pleased the Gods in service of the
greater good.

The Inuit routinely practiced Senilicide and Invalidcide to rid the tribe of the sick and the old in order to protect the societal core and to preserve provisions.

Which society has it right?  Should the young die to protect the established?  Or should the elderly get out of the way to make room for their replacements?

27 Comments

  1. The elderly have tremendous value as they have lived long before us and have a knowledge of history far superior to that which we read in books and Kindles.
    I wonder when technology will become so advanced that it will be just our robots against their robots? Until then we have to send out the kids, I suppose. Terrible, though.

  2. Jews are forbidden to give up their life under any circumstance other than three : to avoid taking a life (murder), to avoid indulging in adultery, and to avoid worshiping an idol of any sort.
    So none of the above, I suppose. 🙂

  3. Gordon —
    Fascinating list, but in need of explanation. Can you give examples for each?
    How do Jews rationalize the IDF and killing in the name of the State of Israel?
    Where does the Mossad fall in your list?
    What about the state-sponsored kidnapping and execution of Holocaust perpetrators after the war?
    What about the 1972 raid on the Munich Olympics where people were killed?

  4. David,
    These are all secular and not related to my list. None of those were done for the sake of Heaven but for the secular State of Israel which is unrelated to the Land of Israel for which I pray three times a day.
    Examples for my list:
    Someone puts a gun in my hand and says, murder this person or I will kill you. I must let him kill me.
    Someone brings me to his wife and says, have sex with my wife or I will kill you. I must let him kill me.
    Someone brings me to a large statue of Ganesha and says, worship Ganesha or I will kill you. I must let him kill me.

  5. Those are clear examples, Gordon, thank you.
    However, I am confused when you say there is a dividing line between a secular life and a religious life. How is that cleaving possible?
    If you are asked to sacrifice your life in the preservation of the State Israel — how can that be a religious violation in the Land of Israel? Are Jews who voluntarily gave up their lives to help make and maintain Israel as a state not properly observant?

  6. David,
    It is not the difference between a secular life and a religious life but rather a secular state and a religious state.
    Risking your life and giving up your life are not the same and all anyone who ever gave up their lives did was losing it on a gamble, not a certainty. What they all did was proper. 🙂
    I’m not sure how better to explain it other than there is no Land of Israel so long as the Jewish People are not, so to speak, fully living there. I know it probably sounds kooky but it’s part of being Jewish — awaiting the time when we will all live there and suffer attack no more.

  7. Here’s the thing. We believe as Jews that G-d created the earth for the purpose of having the Jewish people live in the Land of Israel. Right now, plenty of Jews live in the State of Israel, but plenty more people want them to be destroyed and removed from it.
    At some point in the future, we believe that a messianic figure will appear and lead the entire Jewish people into said Land of Israel. The geographic location is pretty much where the State of Israel is but it has no sanctity as it will when there will be said redemption, etc.
    (Who would have thought this article would lead to such a fine religious discussion?)

  8. So is the current state of Israel a placeholder for the Land of Israel or are they two, totally different, things?
    How do you feel about Sarah Palin being such a “supporter” of Israel? Do you find her interest in your welfare genuine or is she just hoping for the Second Coming and your ultimate destruction?
    I appreciate your tutoring, Gordon! This is a fascinating and important topic because these matters do form the world in which we spin.

  9. Exactly — a placeholder. It’s like a good cup with nothing in it. Looks pretty, tastes like air.
    Sarah Palin and any other Christian ‘supporter’ of Israel wants to lead the Jewish people into Israel so that they can ultimately accept J.C. as their saviour. That is all they want from us.

  10. Thanks for the great detail, Gordon! When Palin parades around in her “Israel” flags and pins it just turns the stomach because, I agree, she is concerned only with your conversion to Christianity and, if you don’t go along with that, then she’ll provide your complete destruction.

  11. When my ex boyfriend’s mother was diagnosed with cancer he told me once in utter frustration –“…I don’t know whether she was going to live through it or not….couldn’t even plan my life…”
    It took me a couple of years to internalize, process and comprehend the meaning of the statement.
    His mother bothered him for about a year then passed away. I am yet to know whether he felt relieved or not.
    I am glad my life is a little less important to me than to let my loved ones deal with “life” alone per se.