Are we "lucky" to be alive?

2 years, 5 months ago

“We are so lucky to be alive.” A cliche I’m sure we have all come across, I’m wondering how much truth or substance is really behind this statement. For one to be lucky in a situation, at least two different outcomes must be possible, and more often than not one gets to enjoy the more positive of the two simply by chance. It could be said that being alive is an outcome, but what is the other? Never being born? Is never existing in the first place “unlucky”? Surely not, because there is no subject or agent there to be unlucky.

The only scenario I could see this phrase having any meaning in is after a near-death experience. “Boy, I’m lucky to be alive after almost getting hit by that car!” or “I feel so lucky to be alive after overcoming that horrible disease!” However, I would argue that “I’m lucky to have not died” is a more accurate description here than “I’m lucky to be alive.”

The phrase “We are lucky to be alive,” like so many other “inspirational” cliches, is entirely transparent and has no real basis other than a nice thought.

November 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

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Profile photo of Nick Nick (@nickc2007) 2 years, 5 months ago ago

…not really.

My interpretation of that phrase has always been that life is short and so fucking sweet that you do sometimes need to be reminded that the chance to live is a real blessing. Obviously it’s impossible to compare it to not being born, as nobody has direct experience of that, it’s more a reminder that it’s well worth being an optimist. Let’s quote Tool shall we?

“Twirling ’round with this familiar parabol.
Spinning, weaving ’round each new experience.
Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this
chance to be alive and breathing,
a chance to be alive and breathing.”

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Profile photo of stryder stryder (@stryder) 2 years, 5 months ago ago

@dkanowsky The chances of both of your parents meeting and then pro-creating to create you are so small that its little short of a miracle that your unique self exists at all. And if you then factor in the chances of both sets of your grandparents meeting and then creating your parents, the chances of your own individual self being alive are so small that it is a miracle that you are alive and walking around this earth.

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Profile photo of cadeus cadeus (@cadeus333) 2 years, 5 months ago ago

I’d have to disagree with you, I feel very lucky to be alive in this galaxy, at this time, on this planet on this planet and to have the life that I have. My life is not perfect but it is a million times better than most peoples lives on this planet if I am honest wit myself. It is a blessing to be alive and it is very lucky to be alive in a situation where you can really appreciate and make the most out of this blessing we call “life”.

Might as well enjoy it to the fullest and be a shining example of love and compassion to the rest of humanity, so that we may die with pride and dignity while leaving behind a legacy for our children to improve on.

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Profile photo of derek derek (@dkanowsky) 2 years, 5 months ago ago

@nickc2007, “it’s more a reminder that it’s well worth being an optimist.” – exactly, as I said this phrase serves no purpose other than a nice thought. As for the Tool quote, it seems to be saying that life is an opportunity, which I am not denying. I am simply exploring what I view “luck” to be, and concluding that cliches like this one have no real utility when analyzed.

@stryder, You raise a fair point bringing up the unlikelihood of one’s ancestry working out the way it did, however it seems to me that you are basing the “luck” simply off of probability (or should I say, improbability). No one can deny that to exist as uniquely as you do at this moment is a near mathematical impossibility, but this is not the angle I am looking at the phrase from.

@cadeus333, I do not mean to demean or attack your positivity, but your response is simply an extension of the very cliche I am criticizing.

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Profile photo of 123 123 (@a1379) 1 year, 4 months ago ago

We are lucky to be here because we are here. If we were not here, then yes there would be no person to feel lucky or unlucky unless it was determined that we were so by someone that actually did exist. I believe I exist and I that I am lucky to be here compared to if I did not exist. It makes sense to me because I am here. Why do you care to debate if not existing is lucky or unlucky to something that does not exist? The feeling of being lucky or unlucky to be here is clearly up to the person that is questioning it. If there is not someone to question it, then other people that do exist might question it for them. Is that what you are trying to do? Figure out if existing is lucky or unlucky? I think it depends on if you can handle being lucky or not.

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Profile photo of Matheus Pinheiro Matheus Pinheiro (@Mattgood) 1 year, 4 months ago ago

It is unique and people do not give unique experiences that easy.

Of course we are lucky!

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Profile photo of YHVH YHVH (@spaceghost) 1 year, 4 months ago ago

I used to say “I didn’t ask to be born!”

Now I’m not sure I didn’t.

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Profile photo of sian sian (@siantastic) 1 year, 4 months ago ago

I personally feel like the luckiest bastard ever.

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