Honorable mention — Damon Jordan: The afterlife dilemma

By Damon W. Jordan

Damon Jordan

Possibly the most common piece of advice given to us graduating high schoolers is to enjoy every moment of the upcoming years. Those speech-givers tell the mass of graduating teens that every second counts, and to make the most of what time we have on Earth. And yet, this advice is completely contradictory to the idea of an afterlife. So why is that piece of advice so common? After all, what are a few decades in the face of an eternal afterlife? And yet, it is this line of thinking that would cause me to lose sight of the most important times of my life. Our time on Earth is the most important time, and the concept of a time after death lessens the gravity of our limited lives.

Ignoring the fact that no hard proof about the existence of an afterlife has been found, it’s not too hard to see why we should strive to do good in our day. The average life expectancy is around 79 years. While this may seem short in the face of eternity, consider how long the next generation will live. My children and grandchildren will live further into the future, until each compounding generation’s years approaches times we cannot even comprehend as humans. Humans have already existed for thousands of generations, and it is highly unlikely that we will cease any time soon. Therefore, I already have an afterlife to look forward to: the lives of my sons and daughters.

Our job while living on this planet is to ensure our children can live on it, too, and our children’s children after that. The reason we research science and technology is to improve the future, not just the present. The generations before us created vaccines so our life expectancy would rise, and it’s our job to continue improving that or our children. Those who work only for themselves — because they believe what happens after they die doesn’t matter — are incredibly selfish. The human experience has always been about helping fellow humans, including those who come after us.

Therefore, it is important to live like there is no afterlife, because there very well may not be. The average human is only given 79 years on this rock, and it’s important to make the best use of them, not only for our benefit, but for our children’s as well. The world will continue to exist even when I leave it, so it’s vital to make that future world the best it can possibly be, by rejecting the idea of afterlife. Otherwise, what’s the point of me living here at all?

Damon, 17, graduated from Thomas Worthington High School in Worthington, Ohio. He was a member of his school’s marching band and gave free private lessons to local elementary school students. He’s done extensive traveling and enjoys reading science fiction and playing games with friends. Damon will be attending Ohio State University and hopes to become an English teacher.