Two nights ago, my niece's cousin overdosed while at a music festival. She, along with another man, took an extremely potent form of ecstasy. One was pronounced dead on arrival. The other died within minutes of getting to the hospital. She was 20 years old.
A year ago, my best friend's longtime friend was fooling around on one of Boston's islands. He decided to show off to his friends and jump across an abandoned elevator shaft. He lost his footing, fell, and died on impact. He was just shy of 30.
The worst with both of these situations is that people have been shrugging their shoulders and saying, "Well, that's what you get." These people are giving themselves splinters as they finger the Darwin Award that they are so eager to give to the deceased. In the former situation, people are actually mad at the two who died because they "cancelled the music festival."
The people who feel like the deceased got what they deserved forget that they are just as stupid as the whole lot of them. They might not do drugs at festivals, or jump elevator shafts, but every single person does something that could get them killed. If the deceased deserved to die for their mistakes, than so do they.
Maybe you wait until your car is halfway out of the parking lot before you buckle up. Maybe you smoke. Maybe you run out into traffic in an effort to catch a bus. Maybe you eat copious amounts of iHop. Maybe you drink too much. Maybe you felt a lump in your breast and put off seeing a doctor. Maybe you saw someone suspicious on the train and didn't speak up. We all do stupid shit that, on some level, we deserve to die for.
But that's the thing: we don't. Death happens, but, save for the very select few, we don't deserve it. Those who cry, "Darwin awards!" forget that we are beyond that type of evolution. We have ascended from trial and error attributes, with those who possess the losing traits dying off. We went from a species with a 75% infant mortality rate to 1%.
And we're a smart species. We might do dumb things, but the things we are capable of, in comparison to the rest of the animals on the planet, is astounding. We didn't go to the moon or invent the computer because the dumber ones were killed off.
Not to mention that, if anything, we could use a little less natural selection. Natural selection is the reason why humans are as barbaric, territorial, angry, and jealous as they are. Many believe that we are around (and the Neanderthals are not) because we were a warring species and the Neanderthals were considerably more peaceful. We have a long and complicated history as a species of fighting each other and killing off those who were not as brutal as us. If you are ever curious as to why humans still conduct wars and abuse rights and hurt unnecessarily, just look to our ancestors.
My heart aches for my niece and her father's side of the family. I can only hope that they ignore the roar of thoughtless public opinion and find a way to heal together.