Computers influence us in many ways. Today,
Ainan posed a question that deliberately played with that influence on our
“What if when you die,” he began, with
whimsy in his eyes, “you see a high score screen?”
I laughed uproariously...so loudly I no
doubt worried our neighbours. He joined me in laughter, though his lungs couldn’t
muster the same volume.
Then, I sobered up.
“In a way, you do. At least other people
Ainan’s gaze tightened on me, in curiosity.
“You see when a celebrity or a rich person
dies, newspapers tend to report the net worth of their estate at the moment of
death. This is a kind of high score that summarizes your life achievements.”
“How do they know that?”
“There are people who track the wealth of
celebrities and rich people.”
“Why do they do it?”
“Because some people find that interesting.”
He looked perplexed. Clearly, Ainan didn’t
find this a meaningful datum about a person – and that perplexity was
encouraging, for it bespoke of a deeper way of looking at the meaning of people
and their lives.
There are other “high scores” they could
focus on, but usually don’t so much. Were they married? (That is a life achievement.)
How long was that marriage? Did it endure lifelong (a testament to stability)?
How many children did the deceased have? How many grandchildren and
great-grandchildren? How long did they live? What were their greatest
achievements? What made them happiest? What would they most like to be
remembered for? How many books did they write? How many did they sell? How many
patents and papers did they have to their name? How about music compositions or
works of art? Or articles in newspapers? How many and how important were their
life works? Whom did their life touch? What effect did they have in the world,
or on their family and friends? Did they make a positive contribution to life,
society and the environment overall? Were they honest? Were they warm, loving
and kind? Did they help others or predate upon them?
I could go on forever. There are so many
more meaningful ways to assess a life than to declare a person’s net worth.
Sadly, we live in a world that values wealth more than all the other indicators
of a worthy life put together.
As for Ainan’s question: “What if when you
die, you see a high score screen?”
I could have answered, but didn’t, until
“They are called biographers.”
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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Labels: Ainan Celeste Cawley, celebrity deaths, estate, how to assess a human life, net worth, obsession with money, the afterlife, the value of life, what is important in this life