The Great Equalizer

As this recent New York Times article poignantly illustrates, Horace Mann was wrong, education is not the great equalizer of men. Or women.

As always at the end of the year, most major newspapers list the most newsworthy deaths of the calendar year. Some provide a few paragraphs about each person. The “newsworthy deaths” compilations are a nice reminder that death is the great equalizer. Of men and women. The rich and poor. Hawk and dove. Religious and secular. Well known and anonymous. Prepared and unprepared.

I imagine most people who read those “famous deaths” compilations think to themselves, “Wow, a lot of famous people died this year.” That’s the thing about death, it’s kind of consistent. A lot of famous people die every year. In the United States, in 2013, someone will be born every 8 seconds and die every 12 seconds.

Poor form I know, but I can’t help but wonder if the comrades—Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro—will feature prominently in next year’s “famous deaths” lists. And what about Mugabe, Bush Sr, and Mandela, all quite skilled at postponing the great equalizer. Will they make it to 2014?

More importantly, will you and I make it to 2014? Psychologist Russ Harris suggests a simple exercise for being more conscious of The Great Equalizer (as described in The Antidote: Happiness for those Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking). Imagine you are eighty years old—assuming you’re not eighty already, that is; if you are, you’ll have to pick an older age—and then complete the sentences “I wish I’d spent more time on. . . ” and “I wish I’d spent less time on. . .”

Whatever your age, that wonderfully simple exercise will improve your chances of reaching death having lived life as fully and as deeply as possible.

I hope this isn’t your year or my year, but just in case, let’s live it like it could be.

Thank you for making time to read my writing this year. Peace to you and yours.

4 thoughts on “The Great Equalizer

  1. I don’t necessarily want to die early. I just don’t want to live beyond my abilities to function normally with no quality of life left. The vegetive state has no appeal whatsoever for me.

    Happy New Year Ron. Looking forward to more of your thought-provoking posts, unless of course I can’t, if you know what I mean :-)

    Geesh. That sounded pretty morbid. Oh well.

    • Thanks as always Larry. Your stating an end-of-life preference (which most everyone can relate to) raises a related controversy—right to die legislation. Also, I hope there was no loss of life in your parts as a result of last night’s football game. Not to worry, the Seahawks should take care of RGIII et. al. next Sunday.

  2. Exceedingly well-done Ron – very valuable information regarding how a person’s outlook on life directly impacts the quality of that person’s life – as always, highly thought-provoking. May God bless you with many, many more years of helping others improve the quality of their lives! Keep up the brilliant work.

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