Here I am escaping from David Hume’s tomb. That is interesting, at least to me, because he is one of the few philosophers who ever wrote positively about the virtues of suicide. I didn’t know that when I visited his tomb in Edinburgh, Scotland.
My personal view on homicide is that it is a bad thing to do; and without thinking too hard on it, I can name six friends who have been murdered, two by unknown assailants because of their occupation. One was a drug dealer, which was unknown to me, and the other was a dance-hall owner who offended a patron, and the four others were self-inflicted murders. I consider them murders because the victims were decent law-abiding people who were healthy, happy and had plenty of kindness to give to their friends, but they were murdered by their evil twins. All of these murders were from gunshots. I knew several others who died from gunshots, but they were accidents, and a few who survived the bullets that came their way. Every single one of these people were friendly, and none were depressed. They all had plenty of life force, but an evil fate caught up with them.
I am not suicidal at all, and am very careful to preserve my safety, especially when driving, and I avoid risky sports. Here in Bend, Oregon, a resort town, most people do all sorts of what I consider risky sports, like skiing, rock climbing, river kayaking, bike riding, long distance trips, etc. All of those things I avoid on the simple principle of self-preservation and avoiding unnecessary risk. Okay, in my youth I was an Air Force pilot, a risky occupation, but I wasn’t bothered by the risk because I regarded it as part of the duty I willingly accepted. I am saddened to discover that some of my friends got killed, but I don’t feel overly grieved by those deaths, because we knew what we were doing. From my eighty-year-old body and mind, I am so very glad that I got to live those six decades, and a couple of thousand hours of importance-filled flying, which from this geriatric perspective, I am now willing to forego. Someone else could step in and fulfill those jobs, and did, but nobody could have lived my life, and did what I did.
As a twenty-year-old Air Force pilot I was probably considered a fine male sperm donor, for fathering their children, and so I had some truly wonderful girlfriends, but I now believe that the proof that they were right is that I have survived many years in good health, and that is an excellent measure of worthiness too.
My current motto to myself is “Live long and participate !” Of course to live long comes first, because without the time there is no participation. Therefore, avoid unnecessary risk with little benefits for success and a big downside for failure, and seek positive risks where there are big benefits for winning and little loss for failure. It is the difference between sky-diving and chatting with billionaires. Both are readily available.
When it comes to risk the goal is not to be smart but to avoid being stupid.