The “devaluization” of human life part 1: Survival instinct and desensitization of human death and tragedy

Note; Here are three points that I am interested in talking about. This is by no means a perfect post, and I believe that it shows the jumbled mess that is in my mind at the moment. The three points here don’t necessarily tie together, but I wanted to include all of them right here. There are several very deep and heavy topics that I introduce, and I hope that they give you some things to think about and process throughout your day. I will say that part two will be better put together. Consider this part to be an introduction if you will of the points that I will make in part 2.

The survival instinct that dominates our lives

We as humans have a survival instinct built into us. Most of the time it dominates our lives in the most serious fashion, and we accept it as normal. For many of us, avoiding death is just a part of life. We don’t consider that every day, we are mere steps, moments even, away from our last breath on this earth. Of course, everything that we do in our day-to-day lives is completely normal for us to do. We fasten our seat belts, we avoid heights, we avoid touching electric outlets. We look both ways when we cross the street and we go about our lives. We steer clear of death so much that we become numb to the idea of death. We see death on the news. Mass shootings, car accidents, planes plummeting from the sky, poisoned food. Day in and day out we are inundated with the idea that death and tragedy happens to others, and as such we are unprepared for it to happen to us or to those around us.

Living with our survival instinct

Have you ever seen a child leaning against a balcony? Or a swimmer in ocean, swimming out past what you would deem to be a safe distance? Or perhaps a driver staring at their phone as they cruise at 70mph? Your heart drops, you feel panicky. You want to warn them, grab the child back from the balcony, pull the swimmer to shore. This is part of our nature that seeks preservation.

Because of the survival instinct that we have, we tend to avoid the many ways that we could be harmed throughout the day. It is only through God’s grace that many of us are alive at this point in time. With that being said, I am not stating that we should be so afraid of death that we don’t take a step outside of our front doors. God made our world to be explored, and at the same time He gave us a healthy fear of his creation for our own longevity. We can’t live on this earth and be afraid of every little thing that could happen. I remember several years ago seeing a t-shirt for sale at a white-water rafting shop. The t-shirt read: “You could fall out of your raft and die. You could fall off of a cliff and die. You could fall off of your couch and die.” To some of you, this would be read as a legitimately scary statement. Instead of seeing this as a reason to stay home, I see it as a deep truth about life! We can do our best to use our survival instinct to live safely and avoid taking unnecessary risks, but living and enjoying life is a gift that we must take and use. Second Timothy 1:7 says “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” This survival instinct is a God given trait, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of or upset about. Truly realizing that every day could be our last, and living as if it IS our last day is where we must begin preparing and acknowledging that we very well could die at any moment.

The desensitization of the world to tragedy and death

Now, because of the internet and television (Which I will discuss in-depth in part 2 of this post), we see death and hear about death much more often than we deal with it. It is always far far removed from the little bubbles in which we live. “Man, did you hear about the shootings last night?”, “On the news I saw that four people died in a car accident on 75.” These types of sentences constantly pop in and out of our lives. The great majority of the time we breeze past them without a hitch in our step or deviation in our train of thought. In fact, these tragic news stories are so constantly thrown into our faces that we are desensitized to the idea of dying. Death becomes nothing more than another horrifying incident that we can talk about to pass the time. It’s never brought up just how close we are to being the casualties that others talk of, or the next story that the news networks can feed on. We don’t stop to ponder that these horrific stories have changed the victims lives forever, or the emotions and hurt that the victims are dealing with. The feelings and emotions surrounding these incidents are stony and cold, locked away in the glowing screen of electronics where they will never affect us. Because, you know, those things only happen to others.


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