“I Shouldn’t Be Alive” is a documentary series. Check out the episode summaries. Carolyn & I have only watched one episode in its near-entirety, the one where a helicopter crashes — inside an active volcano. It was amazing. The stories really make you think about crazy situations that don’t normally happen. Anyway, it got me to thinking… Hey! *I* shouldn’t be alive either.
This is a philosophical rant, not a review of the TV show. Hitler is mentioned, as is Vietnam, and knife-wielding maniacs.
Read on for more.
There is a KMFDM song that says, “The only reason you are alive is because somebody decided to let you live.” It is about the government and society, but it’s very true.
I Shouldn’t Be Alive.
I was reading Carolyn’s post about a scary asshole driver, where I remarked that going to a more-isolated area, be it a forest or an access road, generally will increase your danger if you are being attacked. Don’t run to the woods; run to the middle of the highway. Stop traffic. Make a scene. Make people see.
It got me to thinking — I Shouldn’t Be Alive.
I am alive because a man chasing my mom through a forest at night, with a knife, failed at achieving goal: Murder. If that lunatic had had his way, I Shouldn’t Be Alive.
I am alive because Adolf Hitler was born. Under my belief system, it would be perfectly acceptible to travel back in time and kill baby Hitler. It doesn’t matter that baby Hitler is innocent; baby Hitler must die by pure pragmatism. The ends completely justify the means. However, given the opportunity to do so, I would not kill Hitler. Without Hitler, I Wouldn’t Be Alive. A very unfortunate truth.
I hope the choice to kill baby Hitler is never presented to me. I told an old friend last weekend: “I will always choose survival, no matter what.” If given the choice to kill baby Hitler, I would decline, as it would mean I would never be born. Thus, since I had a choice, I would be complicit in the murder of millions of Jews — just so that I can live. Should I feel guilty for a hypothetical situation? Perhaps, because the choices I might make could be considered just as important as the chioces I’ve actually made. In the eyes of some diety, I may already be guilty of murdering millions of Jews just for my unwillingness to stop them. Ugh. Best not to think about that, and be happy that if I went back and killed baby Hitler, then I never would have been born, which probably would have prevented me from going back and killing him, because I wouldn’t exist.
So, my grandfather stormed Normandy on D-Day (3rd wave), and liberated my grandmother from a Nazi labor camp. If she had not been liberated, I Shouldn’t Be Alive. But Hitler didn’t quite get his way.
Before that, she was with a group of jews about to be taken, by train, to a death camp. Via the life-risking kindness of others (Catholics, even!), she managed to get a reprieve, with 3 people on the entire train being called off at the last minute. Without the kindness of random people working against their government, I would not exist. I Shouldn’t Be Alive.
Still later, she was hidden by a family, living inside of a chimney space. The fucking Gestapo literally looked for people hidden in the chimneys, and looked down the chimney she was in. Fortunately, they did not see her. I Shouldn’t Be Alive, but fortunately humans can’t see in the dark very well.
So, my grandfather went on to teach computers to the military in the 1940s (Yes, I am a 3rd generation I.T. worker, one of very few). He remained in the armed forces, and corresponded with his First Infranty war buddies til his dying day. He had some clout.
I am alive because my Dad did not go to Vietnam. He was drafted, and had orders to go to Vietnam. My grandad, and his clout, got the orders changed. My dad went to Chicago. Had the american government had its way (and sent my dad to Vietnam), I would not be alive. Suddenly I realize the KMFDM lyrics are VERY accurate, even for me, even for my government. I am a member of a country whose intentions should have prevented me from ever being born. I Shouldn’t Be Alive.
This became even more apparent to me when I had a Fairfax County police officer point his gun at my head. (I had just moved, it was my first day at a new job, I was lost, and tried to stop to ask if I was going in the right direction. I made the mistake of thinking a public servant would serve me, the public, who pays his salary.) He yelled commands at me that I was unable to hear due to the prevailing winds. Had he decided to pul the trigger, there is 100% of a chance that I would be murdered and he would be aquitted of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Police are never culpable. No threat of justice stood between me and his itchy trigger finger. Nor could I hear him say “put your hands up” (or whatever he said) because he was downwind from me and there was a lot of traffic noise. I just did what I thought would be least likely to piss him off — put my hands up, because that’s what I’ve seen on television. It was a moment where I was definitely glad that I was not black, because anything in my hand would have magically looked like a gun and I would have been shot 47 times.
The only reason I am alive is because somebody decided to let me live. Literally. Damn, KMFDM was right! I Shouldn’t Be Alive.
Speaking of being black, what about that time that I was apparantly a victim of a racist hate crime? I’m not quite sure what even happened. I was in high school, and went to a record store. I was walking across the street, and a car was ‘standing’ by the curb. I looked to my right, and made eye contact with the driver – a complete stranger, who was black. He immediately gunned the accelerator, and I had to literally jump out of the way of the vehicle. What the fuck?! I guess I Shouldn’t Be Alive, but I would have liked to have known his motivation for trying to kill me. I guess if he had his way, I Shouldn’t Be Alive.
However, I am.
Despite Hitler, the gestapo, despite crazed lunatics in the woods with knives, despite the United States Government preferring to send people off to fight useless wars like Vietnam & Iraq 1/2 & Afghanistan, despite police with itchy trigger fingers — despite all this, I am alive. Through many, many strokes of luck.
Maybe this is a partial source of my rebellious nature. I’m not supposed to even be here. If the world had its way, I wouldn’t. Perhaps that is why I feel detached from the average human. Perhaps this is why I find racism and fascism disgusting. Perhaps this is why I am outraged by Israel’s treatment of Palestine, after so many people there were treated in a similar fashion. Perhaps this is why I sear allegiance to no government or god.
I don’t know.
I’m glad to be alive, however. :)