Martyrdom has been given a bad name by religion. Not surprising, since religion tends to poison whatever it touches. But at it’s core it is still a noble concept – to give up one’s life for something one deems to be more important for society or humanity. To gain more fulfillment of your utility function by dying to support a goal than could be gained by continuing to live – it is tragic and awe inspiring.
Belief in an afterlife seems to cheapen the whole concept. Jesus didn’t permanently die for anyone’s sins – he was temporarily inconvenienced. As was pointed out in 39, dying isn’t so horrible when it doesn’t end your life. When someone who knows that death is permanent accepts a significant risk of death, giving their life over for good, it feels to me like it means far more. This may be self-serving bias. But I think of Tricia Glasswell as a hard-bitten cop with no delusions of an afterlife, and it makes me want to write a fanfic-fanfic of her story. Facing annihilation when there is no afterlife recourse – that is hard-boiled badassery.
That’s a cool idea. I actually know where Tricia Glasswell came from, however. When I first came across her, she was a roleplay character on the mspaintadventures forums, in the Sburb Patch Thread roleplay, which has a TVTropes page here:
I think it was the intention that they were the same character, and that Tricia had to go back to her own universe afterwards, but the writer approached Eliezer as a fan of the story, and after contributing some fanworks he decided to give her a cameo.
As that’s the case, it’s less that she didn’t believe in life after death; her character has come back from the dead a number of times, it’s more that she didn’t believe that her death, regardless of if she could return from it, was the end of the fight she was undertaking. She was something of an extremist, and became an antagonist in the thread for a long while, but she always fought for the greater good. I’d liken her to a less-psychotic Magneto, personally. Much less likely to kill because someone had displeased her or fought against her, but just as likely to take over with an iron fist when needs be.
Well I’ll be! Thanks!