Life is a quality that living creatures have which distinguishes them from dead creatures or things that have never been alive. It is characterized by functions such as metabolism, growth, response to stimulation, and reproduction. A personality is the behavioral, temperamental, emotional, and mental traits of a creature. Consciousness is the state of having awareness of one’s own existence, sensations, and thoughts.
Living is better than being inanimate because one has to be alive to learn, choose, and experience sensations. But why are learning, choosing, and experiencing sensations good and, thus, make life worth preserving?
Learning is desirable for at least the following seven reasons: It helps one to improve intellectually and morally, provide for oneself and others, turn one’s dreams into reality, save one from being fooled and/or cheated, become more self-confident, get more respect, and understand reality better, including good, evil, and the purpose of life. In short, learning what one should helps one to be as sane, good, and happy as possible, which I believe is the goal of human life. The following paragraph briefly explains most of the assertions of this paragraph.
1) The more facts we know, the smarter we are and the more good we can do. The smarter we are and the more good we do, the more improved we are intellectually and morally. 2) Learning helps us provide for ourselves and others in at least two ways: It can give us a skill that enables us to get a decent-paying job, and we can learn how to get and keep the things we and our dependents need to live and be happy. 3) We have to learn how to do things in order to achieve our goals. 4) Learning saves us from being fooled and/or cheated because we have to learn who and what to trust and distrust and why, and how to deal wisely with various people and situations. 5) Learning helps us become more self-confident because increased knowledge means increased ability to successfully accomplish certain tasks. The more tasks we can successfully accomplish, the more our self-confidence justly increases. 6) It helps us have more respect because people rightfully respect those who have greater knowledge. 7) Learning helps us understand reality better because it is how we get to know more facts.
What about choosing? Why is choosing desirable? Here are some reasons.
Choosing keeps one from being an automaton. An automaton usually refers to a robot or someone who acts like a robot, but I will use the word in a broader sense here, for lack of a better word. In this case, an automaton is anything that just does what it is “programmed” to do, always behaving in an automatic and mechanical fashion. Thus, according to my definition, stars, rocks, clouds, fire, viruses, plants, and simple animals are automatons. In contrast and simply speaking, the ability to choose makes one a person with freewill rather than an automaton. If we consider all the creatures and inanimate objects that are automatons in the universe, we will soon realize that freewill persons are relatively rare. And what is rare is usually very valuable in one way or another.
Choosing allows us to express ourselves. We can choose to talk or keep silent, and when we talk, we can choose what to say.
To an extent, choosing allows us to create ourselves and our lives. We can choose to be brave and good, or we can choose to be cowardly and evil. Heck, in many cases, we can choose to succeed or fail, choose our career, choose to become parents or remain childless, or choose to live or die. Et cetera.
Choosing allows us to try to accomplish goals in order to fulfill our desires. We can choose to work hard in school, earn a college diploma, and get a good-paying career that we enjoy. More mundanely, we can choose to eat food that we like or go where we please. There is almost no end to the choices we can and have to make!
Choosing is related to learning too. It helps us learn because our choices teach us about ourselves and the results of certain actions. Do you think that you are a very good person? Well, wait until you choose to cheat on your significant other, or until you choose to unjustly favor someone just to keep something you value, like your job. That choice might teach you that you are not as good as you thought. Conversely, do you think that you are a very evil person? Well, just wait until you sacrifice your own happiness for the benefit of someone else, just because you care about her or him. That choice might teach you that you are not as evil as you thought.
How does choosing help us know the results of certain actions? That’s easy. You choose to do something and then learn the result. One time, I chose to take my parents’ car on a long trip which my father somewhat forbid me to take. He said that I could go on the trip, but I shouldn’t take that car because it was likely to break down. To make a long story short, I chose to take that car, and I learned that my father was right. The car broke down hundreds of miles from my hometown, and some bad things happened as a result.
The ability to choose also makes us happy because most (if not all) sentient creatures enjoy being free. Put a man in a jail, and he is likely to try to escape. Why? Because he has more freedom outside the jail than in it, because he can choose to do more of the things that he desires beyond the prison’s walls. More choices generally equals more happiness.
It is important to realize that, like learning, choosing what one should helps one to be as sane, good, and happy as possible, which, as I stated earlier, is the goal of human life. God put us rational creatures in this universe to learn and choose certain things while we live here.
What about sensations? Why is it desirable to experience them? At the very least, we could not experience pleasure and happiness if we were dead or inanimate; and those of us who have experienced those things certainly find them very valuable. We know firsthand that it is better to feel pleasure and happiness than to feel nothing. Also, if you are not alive, you cannot help other creatures in the same way that you could if you were alive. Rocks are inanimate, and by themselves they cannot give water to the thirsty, food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, shelter to the homeless, defense to the innocent, conversation to the lonely, and teaching to the ignorant. But a living human can.
With all this in mind, choose life over death and love life. Your life is God’s gift to you. What you do with your life is your gift to everyone. Give everyone the best gift that you can with your life!