As a thought experiment, suppose you knew you were going to die three months from now. Further, suppose some multibillionaire hears of your impending death and decides to make you an offer: He will produce a 30-second TV commercial of your final message to the world and air it during the 2012 Super Bowl and the Summer Olympics in London. It will also be aired at appropriate times during the presidential debates next year. In addition, he will run a highly creative ad campaign encouraging people to watch your parting message.
So, here’s the deal: You’ve got thirty seconds. You’ll have a big audience. What would you say?
I knew immediately what my message would be, though not exactly how I would say it. I thought about what my message implied about my life and the world, and came away satisfied with my decision.
Then I considered what others might say. I could easily imagine any number of people issuing a message of love. Stop hating and love. Make love, not war. They might even recite the popular Biblical passage, 1 Corinthians 13: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”
I recalled Mel Gibson’s final message as Sir William Wallace in the movie Braveheart. For leading a revolt against the treacherous King Edward I of England, Wallace has been brought to the Tower of London for public torture and execution. Eager to see a traitor get his just punishment, the crowd watches as he’s half-hanged, racked, and disemboweled. Before the final deathblow he’s given one last chance to confess his treason. By this time the crowd is calling for mercy. Already near death, Wallace summons the last of his strength and shouts “Freedom!” before the ax comes down on his neck.