If I Die on Mars

September 13, 2015


The above video is an interview from the Guardian that follows three of the final 100 Mars One competitors to take a one way journey to the red planet. While the interview questions give us a glimpse into who the person truly is, I find the last minute of the video to be the most appealing – start at 9:15 if you don’t have time for the whole thing.

The interviewer poses the question to each applicant whether they are ready to die on Mars. The brilliant mathematician’s response is that if he’s cold and gasping for oxygen, his final thoughts will be – “this was worth it.” Was it? I can’t help but wonder what early explorers thought as they found themselves shipwrecked or starving to death on a piece of driftwood. Was the potential self-given glory worth the final experience? What about those early American settlers – the ones that ate each other during a harsh winter and found themselves fighting for their lives against the Native population as one by one, they died from the cold, sickness, war, and starvation? Would they look at us, in their final moments and say “it was worth it.”

We, the offspring of their bravery, would gladly accept that their pain for our pleasure was certainly worth the torment, the struggle, and the lives lost. We would love for them to tell us that it was worth it because their pain was certainly worth it for us… we are enjoying their struggles without ever having to give any of them a second thought.! But was it – for them – was it? Would they take it back?

The Iraqi woman, who has more street credit when it comes to pain, suffering, and survival makes her view on life and death quite simple. We will all die, its just a matter of where. Again though, I must wonder if they have truly considered that they might find themselves eaten alive by fellow settlers, or experience the emotional anguish of never seeing any of their family and friends ever again.

I think the deeper question we must all ask ourselves is this: what is the meaning of life? The second question should be: what makes life worth living for… and worth dying for?

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