There’s only so much land in the world and we keep adding more and more people to the planet. At the time of this writing, there are 6,728,994,300 people in the world, according to the University of North Carolina’s David Levine. Since we are unable to control our own population, much less the world’s, what should we do as citizens to combat the problem of too many people in too few acres?
In my mind, the two biggest wastes of land in our country are golf courses and cemeteries. We probably have a better shot of passing strict gun control laws in this land than we do of getting rid of golf courses, as seemingly every day a new course opens somewhere in the country. And you never hear of a golf course closing. Even nuclear power plants (theoretically) get decommissioned.
So, that brings us to cemeteries.
People are always going to die, so the “supply” for cemeteries is constant. Therefore, we need to attack the demand side of the equation.
Everybody grieves in their own way, so why do the great majority of people spend an outlandish amount of money on a funeral service that results in the deceased getting placed in an expensive box and buried in the ground horizontally, the least efficient use of space possible?
According to the National Association of Funeral Directors, the average funeral costs around $10,000 with 20 percent of the cost eaten up by the casket alone. How many things will be more expensive for the average person than his funeral? I guess there’s a house, car and college but is there anything else? What a waste!
Many people opt for cremation instead. Now, here’s a step in the right direction! The average cost of a cremation is $2,040 according to a story published in The Boston Globe on July 1st of this year.
Now, some people oppose cremation on religious grounds and I have no interest in arguing against someone’s faith. Let’s just say it’s not a hang-up for me and there are many people of various faiths around the world who support cremation.
But doesn’t $2,000 still seem like an excessive amount to pay, or have heirs to pay, for dying?
I’ve decided that when I die, I want a Viking Funeral. And this has nothing to do with being a Minnesota Vikings fan. Rather it seems like a reasonable alternative to outrageously expensive traditional funerals with the added benefit of not wasting precious land.
According to legend, Viking leaders were set adrift in a burning boat when they passed away. If the color of the fire matches the color of the sunset, the Viking led a good life and would end up in Valhalla, where Odin received the souls of slain heroes.
Many people in favor of traditional funerals cite the benefit of closure from the service for the grieving survivors of the deceased. I can think of no better form of closure than my friends and family watching as my boat drifts off to sea, with the flames from the burning boat providing a glorious memory, as opposed to watching yet another somber funeral service.
A lot of people like to go visit the gravesites of friends who pass away. With my Viking Funeral, this will not be possible.
But I would like my heirs to take the money that they saved on a traditional funeral and use that to refurbish or establish a park where children can play in a safe environment. Perhaps they could include a plaque and dedicate the park in my memory. This way my friends could have a place to come visit me.
I would like nothing better than knowing that my final contribution to the world was a place for children to play, thrive and have fun. It sure beats being stuck with all of the other dead people at the local cemetery.