At the end of my university classes, I usually dismiss my students, saying, ‘Have a good day and stay alive.’ Some of them laugh at my words, thinking that I am being humorous; others take me seriously. Eventually, however, my students understand what I mean, namely, to live is to choose. Living and dying are matters under a person’s control, unless, of course, a person “passes away” from some unexpected sickness or disease, say, cancer, or dies suddenly from some kind of tragic accident.
I choose; therefore, I am. Even if I “run” from choosing, not wanting to choose, I choose to run from choosing, making a choice against making a choice. Because I make my choices, I – not another person – “own them,” that is, I am responsible for them. Life, then, is about making choices and being responsible for them. In the words of the Jewish Scriptures,
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life….” (Deuteronomy 30:19, NIV).
Similarly, because all human beings have the faculty of free-will, they choose what to do with their lives. Therefore, on this day, right now, in this moment, either indirectly or directly, human persons are making choices for or against being alive. That, then, is why, at the end of class, I often tell my students, ‘Stay alive!’