Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tough Question, Good Answer

This comes from an Australian advice column called 'Ask Bossy', written by Kate de Brito.

How would you answer this guy?

My answer is at the bottom.


I plan to travel until my money runs out, then kill myself.
Kate de Brito
Monday, May 12, 2008 at 08:02am

Dear Bossy: Can you or your readers perhaps, explain to me why suicide (or as I prefer to call it, the right to Exit) is wrong?? As an intelligent person with rights, understanding and the skills of reasoning why is it considered wrong that I should decide for myself my time to leave this mortal realm? Why do we as a society, shun the idea that a person has the right to make that decision and prefer to embrace the idea that we MUST grow old...potentially with disease and regret and then die. Does this somehow make me more worthy? Let me explain a very simple calculation I did. I am currently 40 and in pretty reasonable health. I earn a good wage and I have some good investments. One major issue I have in life is that I hate my job...I don’t like my work. I only continue to work because...well..that’s what we have been taught to hard for our retirement. The one passion I live for is travel. It’s the only major thing in life I enjoy. Now...I have calculated that if I travel for 4 weeks a year, up to the age of 80 (assuming I can only take 4 weeks due to funds), I will be able to travel a total of just over 3 years. is the clincher...if I were to cash in my investments (about $800k) and totally indulge my passion for travel without any worry of retirement and what the future might bring I could travel for at least 10 years..and that’s spending a pleasurable $80k per year....I could travel longer obviously if I spend a little less. At the end, when there is no more money...nothing for a good retirement..I would simply Exit my life. Totally my choice. And totally having lived a wonderful experience that so few would ever experience. So....a very serious question to everyone...and putting religion aside...what really is the incentive to go on? As a person who will never have untold riches or fame, doesn’t want kids and has to work for every a job I don’t like...and only then to retire...that’s what we are working for after all..comfort in our older lives......what is the point? Why as a society do we find the choice of leaving life so incredibly wrong? Bossy? Anyone?


Bossy says: Wow, full credit to you Brant, you’ve really nutted this problem out. You hate your job and love to travel so of course the logical conclusion is quit, see the world, then top yourself....It seems to me there could be a number of other solutions to your problem that do not require you ending your life. There are also a few potential obstacles to your great escape. I wondered, for a start, what would happen if you fell in love and met someone worth sticking around for. Would you simply abort the plan and go on the dole or carry on because there was no money left in the bank?I also think you have probably greatly underestimated the human will to live, in your planning. While it seems like a top idea now, in theory, I think carrying it through might be a little harder. It’s usually only the most saddened, desperate and despairing individuals who take their own life and occurs when people find they no longer have the resources to cope with the pain in their life. That’s not you.I think the reason so many people are opposed to suicide is because it taps at their natural instinct to survive. We rail against the idea of dying and while we reluctantly accept that people will be taken by illness, accident, or old age, we shudder at the idea they will choose to die. People also view suicide as a selfish act that fails to take into account the grief of those left behind. While it appears you have no dependents or partner, you no doubt have friends and family who will be left deeply saddened by your passing. I wonder how you’ve rationalized that. Philosophers have had a lot to say on the subject of suicide. Plato believed it could be forgiven under some circumstances but mostly it was an act of cowardice undertaken by someone too delicate to manage life’s ups and downs. Others argue a man or woman should have the freedom to choose what he/she does with their own life. I guess if it can be argued a woman has the right to terminate a pregnancy because it her own body, it could also be argued a person has the right to suicide because it is their body. Many arguments against suicide stem from the fact that the people contemplating it are usually in a state of deep depression or despair. They are seen to be not in control of their faculties at the time or not able to make a proper decision. People oppose their suicide because they believe that when “well” they would not make the decision. You however seem of sound mind and appear to be making a logical case for ending your life when you are finished living it. I guess my argument with you would not just be that you may feel differently when the time comes, but whether there aren’t other ways to ensure a better life that goes on longer? You need not be chained to a job you hate. You could quit now and fund your travel for a time, working as you go, settling briefly in countries around the world to experience the culture and gather the resources for your next leg of travel. I worry that you are limiting yourself when considering the potential for your life. I wonder whether you often view life like this, through fairly narrow parameters - whether you are a black and white kind of guy? I’ve founds really cracking article on the philosophy of suicide that might be worth your while. It will give you a view of the way some great thinkers have viewed the issue, rather than just me and the other bloggers. In the end, you must make this decision. As a budgeting tool it seems rather far-fetched to me, but if you have rationally considered it and do so in the right frame of mind and are committed to this plan then I imagine there’s very little anyone can do to stop you.

Happy travels.


Here is my answer.


Dear Brant,

There is quite a bit more to life than just travelling.

You say you are intelligent.

I say you have a lot of learning to do.



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