Living Wills Make Living Easier

If you reach a certain age, you will hear from many different people that you need to have a will. It’ll make things so much easier for your loved ones, you’ll be told, and you never know what will happen tomorrow.

Despite the fact that the above statement is true for everyone from birth until there is no tomorrow, it’s really only when you get to the gray-haired stage of life that people really start hammering it home.

They mean well, and in fact, they’re absolutely right, so we shouldn’t get offended. We should all have wills. In fact, we should write them up before we reach the gray-haired stage and keep them regularly updated. They do help our families and friends when the inevitable comes. It allows them to focus on grieving instead of petty things like money and possessions.

However, having a will isn’t the only way we should be looking to protect those we love during those final moments, we should also all have living wills.

A living will, for those who don’t know, has nothing to do with passing on possessions. It’s a document that details our end of life wishes. Do we want to be kept on ventilators if that possibility develops, or do we want to be taken off life support and allowed to peacefully drift away? What steps do we want doctors to take to revive us, if any, and what steps do we definitely not want taken?

These are uncomfortable decisions to think through, but we need to do so while we’re healthy and thinking clearly. We need it not just for ourselves (which is reason enough), but for those we love.

Think about it from the perspective of family and friends: let’s say something happens to you, and the doctor comes out to ask what should be done. Should they perform an invasive, desperate surgery, should they put you on life support, or should they not?

Imagine how excruciating the choice will be for your loved ones if they don’t know your wishes. It’s the sort of decision that may haunt them for their entire lives, one way or the other.

It’s not enough to mention your wishes now. They may still be wondering, five years down the line, whether your wishes changed. Put it down in writing, and your loved ones can simply hand over your wishes to the doctor without having the extra burden of guilt.

As you can see from the above example, it’s crucial to have a living will in order to make sure the best possible option is taken for everyone on all sides.

Since this is so important, it’s worth pointing out that like all wills, writing a living will is best done with a legal professional, like this estate planning lawyer in my town, who I heard good things about. A living will, and a regular will, should be ironclad and thorough. The less your family has to worry about at the end, the better.

We Should Respect Our Farmers

Farming is a very American occupation. We often praise our “amber waves of grain” as essential to our national identity. Is there anything that suggests America more than the farmer overlooking his fields?

Yet, farming is a career that has a lot of difficulties to it. The economics of farming are notoriously complicated, especially now that the market is no longer the next town, or the next state, or even the whole country, but is instead vast and intimately internationally connected. The corn grown in Iowa will be sold all over the world, and working through the economics of such things is extremely complicated.

While that means there are more customers, it also means there are more competitors and more demands from different regions for the product.

Beyond this, there are the old worries of farming, such as protection from insects and disease that can destroy the crops. There’s also the old fear of droughts and floods, as well as winters that run too long and summers that run too hot. These concerns are sure to increase as climate change becomes more prominent.

So, farming is already complex because of the economics of the business, plus the natural difficulties of growing produce. In addition to this, there is the competition of corporate farms which have massive economic sway and backing. Such corporations can control the market and can afford to wait for better prices or a better growing season.

All this and little has even been discussed of the actual process of farming. There, farmers have to worry about the price of seed and the type of seed to use. With GMOs, there is the potential to avoid certain pests and diseases, but the need to purchase everything from a single supplier, which can raise costs. Plus, GMOs have developed a bad name, and so the use of such products, while helping the crop, could cut into the number of customers available after it’s grown.

Further, there are always the physical dangers of the farm. Some farms are set out in areas that are still very wild, where animals could still attack livestock or even family. The tractors and other heavy machinery (which first of all is incredibly expensive to purchase) also holds real risk of causing injury either through carelessness or through mechanical malfunction.

All these risks suggest that while farming may conjure an image of charm and idleness, the reality is far different. The work is hard, the business risky, and the life can be dangerous. There are competitors everywhere, a vast world market to try to not just understand but to predict, and a huge potential for catastrophe from nature or elsewhere.

This means we should make a greater effort to appreciate our farmers. Their job is an essential part of our American identity, still today, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.