A cancer diagnosis with a 95% chance of survival, while it might not let one “stare death in the face,” at least gives PJ O’Rourke a chance to muse on the end of the road. At first, he “cursed God, as we all do when we get bad news and pain,” he writes in Search magazine. But then he reconsidered: perhaps death really helps us “learn right from wrong” in a chaotic world.
God made a world where life forms can “exercise freedom to an idiotic extent,” with subatomic particles free to combine as they please. “If death weren’t around to 'finalize' the Darwinian process, we’d all still be amoebas,” O’Rourke writes. Besides, in light of dictators and unsavory stepfathers, “do we really want everyone to live forever?” he asks.