“It’s not about if I can. I’m doing this because I want to. I decided long ago that I’m going to be King of the Pirates. If I have to die fighting for that, then I die.”
– Monkey D. Luffy
One Piece, Episode 1
I love this quote, particularly that last sentence. To me, it basically means:
To die right, we must live right, and to live right, we may need to die right.
It’s worth noting that 1) not all pirates are bad guys in One Piece, while a great deal of the government is corrupt as Hell itself, and 2) Luffy is using the phrase “King of the Pirates” in a slightly different context than most of us would think. He doesn’t intend to conquer, control, command, etc. He sees the King of the Pirates not as the mightiest man on the seas, but as the single most free man in the world. So what he’s saying is that he intends to be free, more free than anyone else in the world, and free from the corrupt government which dominates his world.
And if he has to die fighting for his own freedom… then he dies, and that is that.
What I love most about this quote is how it goes straight to the heart of the matter. People who do terrible things talk about how they had no choice, but we always have a choice. That’s the burden of humanity, and our greatest gift as well. Everybody suffers, everybody dies, so what we do to try and stave off death, at a cost to our souls, is ultimately useless. What matters is the sort of people we are when we die, the sort of lives we’ve chosen to live, whether we choose to be in the right or in the wrong.
When we die, we want to die “right,” which means we have to live “right,” making those everyday choices, every single day, to live as best we can. We must never compromise our standards, our personal codes of honor.
We may have to die for it. We have to accept that, or fear, and our most selfish desires to stay alive and/or comfortable for just a little longer, will rule, enslave, and destroy us.
We don’t have to rush into death… but at least we can know our souls are ready, at any time.
If nothing else, when the chips are down, we can fight for lives, knowing our lives are worth fighting for.