The Last Big Adventure This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   "To die will be an awfully big adventure,"author J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan says in the play "Peter Pan." Is thistrue? Is death to be revered as a big adventure that concludes life? Or is theremore to death than simply ending the breathing process? Death is anequal-opportunity adventure, eventually usurping every soul regardless of race,religion, gender, creed or political affiliation.

As long as people havebeen dying, some have had causes and beliefs for which they gave their lives.These can take any form strong enough to move a person to sacrifice lifewillingly. Causes range from individual, intrinsic motives to broad,uncompromising feelings passed on through family, religion, friends, educationand society.

One example is the belief inspired by one's country:patriotism. Patriotism has sparked some of the world's bloodiest battles. NathanHale, America's patriot spy, proclaimed just before his execution, "I regretthat I have but one life to lose for my country." The question today'ssociety asks is, why? Why would anyone want to end his or her life for a hunk ofdirt and dust floating in water? That enigma plagues us, and apathy roams theland like a rapidly spreading virus.

This virus must be eliminated. As adelegate to Kansas Boys State, I was subjected to a weeklong series of patrioticand hope-inspiring themes that eventually penetrated my thick skull. I used to beone of those indifferent folks who would hear the National Anthem or the Pledgeof Allegiance and go through the motions without any emotion. One of the themesat Boys State was actually the meaning of the Pledge. Over the speaker system, arecording played and children in a classroom recited the Pledge methodically, asI used to. After the children spoke, an awkward silence filled the auditorium.Suddenly, the image of a huge flag was projected onto the wall.

Thisbattered flag had seen its day. Then a man's voice boomed over the speakers. Hesaid a few words; then the children spoke again, but only a few words at a time.Between each group of words the man described each part of the Pledge, giving aliteral definition for each word or phrase "I: me, my inner soul, thoughtsand feelings; pledge: a solemn and unwavering promise; allegiance: loyalty toone's nation, obligation, devotion," and so forth. This continued until thePledge was completely defined.

The young men around me dropped like flies.One by one, each began to cry as the true meaning of Boys State finally becameclear. It wasn't about government or who could come up with the most ridiculousstatutes to try to pass in the mock courts; rather, we were there to learn aboutthe past and how better to serve the future. This experience taught us values ofgovernment and the military.

We do not wish to forfeit human life forpeace; that is what our forefathers fought for, suffering through pain and battleto end the need for war. They knew that by sacrificing their existence, they werepreserving ours.

I can see many reasons to give up my life: love, family,friends, preservation of human existence. These beliefs come together inpatriotism. When people fight for their country, they fight for their family andfriends and for the existence of humankind. Without the battle scars of the past,humanity might have taken a radical change for the worse; imagine a world whereHitler won. I'm not saying that if people were more patriotic the world would bewithout monsters and demagogues, but as long as there are people with thetenacity to face the threats of tomorrow, we'll be okay.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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HateKnuckle said...
Sept. 4, 2011 at 9:28 pm
Very nice. I liked the concept of how death is an adventure and is inevitable no matter what. It makes it seem easier to die. I went to New York Boys State and I experienced a similar thing but during the Litany of the Flag(I think that was what it was called). 4 stars.
 
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