Thoughts on Schindler's List (spoilers?)

Kennita Watson (
Thu, 06 Aug 1998 11:41:11 +0000

Last night I saw Schindler's List. Following are a number of ramblings that have come to mind, without regard to plot points they might divulge -- I'm not in the mood for that kind of censoring.

An initial sobering thought: If everyone in the world were going to die except those whose names I could remember, some people I like quite a lot would die.

Money -- time -- life.

Oskar Schindler became extremely wealthy and saved 1100 lives. Do I -- do you -- have enough to save even one? The most important one -- your own? And now that I think of it, Schindler saved 1101, of which the last had to be the first or the 1100 were doomed. But I digress.

Let's start with cryonics -- a slim chance, but your best one at the moment, should death come after you. Do you have enough to pay startup costs, insurance, annual fees, for a chance to save that most important life?

What if your insurance company goes belly-up, or institutes new rules, or drops your coverage, or...? Do you have enough to pay out of pocket for your suspension? For whatever reason, it could be your only chance to live.

Even if you are signed up for cryonics, but especially if you aren't, I presume you realize that each year that you stay alive improves your chances for living indefinitely; medical technology, computer technology, cryotechnology, etc. are constantly improving. Schindler bankrupted himself in seven months, but it was just long enough. Do you have enough to live another year if you lose your job? If you become disabled? If you require constant hospitalization? If you require expensive medical treatment not covered by your insurance, or that is only available in a foreign country? Or for which you have to pay bribes to ensure that you are in the experimental group in clinical trials?

What about for five years? Or ten? Every year could be the year in which rejuvenation is discovered -- in which a crucial disease (any disease can be crucial if you have it and it can kill you) is cured -- in which suspended animation is perfected. How much can you afford to pay to live till that year rather than to die in the year before?

And what if you have fatal disease X (AIDS comes to mind as an example, but there are others, and evolution seems to toss us a new one now and then)? Can you afford to fund research to find the cure? Or at least a treatment that will allow you to live another year, or five, or ten?

And what about the people in the world most important to you? Can you keep them alive? How many are there, and how much would it take? If you don't know, do you need an Itzak Stern to help you find out?

I've heard many people say "I don't care about money". Neither did Schindler, but he realized that money could mean the difference between life and death, and he cared about life. While our circumstances are not as dramatic, the things I mention above, and many others (living in a safe neighborhood, driving a safe car, whatever) show ways in which money can prolong our lives. Schindler and the Schindler Jews survived until the end of World War II. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to survive until the War on Death is won. How long can you afford to survive? What is it worth to you to make enough money to survive longer -- the additional month or year that it might be before victory is declared?

"The worst is over"

"I could have done more"

Schindler also could not have saved 1100 lives had he not been a member of the Nazi Party. He clearly hated what they stood for, but he realized that they had the power and that he would need some of it in order to save lives. I have been a member of the Libertarian party for almost 15 years, but I have the feeling that both the similarities and the differences in the situations here/now and there/then deserve some quiet contemplation.

I wonder if people can be taught to hate death as much as I do? An army of such warriors could certainly fight the War on Death more effectively than me alone. Perhaps that would be the best use of money -- starting a school, funding a college course or community education class....

Or perhaps taking a cue from Hitler's original propaganda machine: commercials, TV shows, newspaper articles (or even my own newspaper), movies (though Schindler's List sets an awfully high bar), and other mass media.

I disliked South Park before I saw Schindler's List -- I'm pretty sure I couldn't stomach it now.

I definitely need to go find something light, happy, upbeat, and positive to see or do.

Kennita Watson