The world only works when life is held as precious. Each of us wants to live more than we want to die. We are overwhelmed by the longing to not die, and consumed with the desire to go on living.
A thousand times a day we make subconscious choices that preserve our lives. We brake when we come to a stop sign. We replace the battery in the smoke detector. We hold on to the handrail. We fasten the safety belt. We double-check the dosage. We do it all so we can continue to live. We do it all to diminish the likelihood of our own demise.
And it is not just our own life that we regard as precious, but all life. Just as we make decisions to protect our own lives, we make decisions to protect others’. We tighten our children’s seatbelts. We put the knives up high. We pay the salaries of police officers. We stop and help when we spot even a stranger in distress.
Life is the most precious thing. The world only works when we maintain this tacit agreement that life is precious, that I will do all I can to preserve both mine and yours, that you will do all you can to protect both yours and mine. Both civilization and civility stand or fall on this simple agreement.
The alternative is unthinkable. The alternative is cars swerving to meet oncoming traffic, bicycles drifting out of the bike lane, toddlers roaming at will, hospitals empty and unstaffed. The alternative might even be a pilot setting his aircraft so that it gradually coasts straight into the ground.