Friday, August 10, 2012

Finite Sadness

I observe the world with decreasing numbers of seconds before me. The world will go on for a very long time after my last second, which is good for those who remain and at least a small comfort when considering the fate of my descendants. I know the world will not end because of humans, even if we used all our nuclear weapons at once and spread every toxin we have created to every crack and crevice of Earth's surface and to every drop of water in the oceans.

Yet merely because bacteria are tough enough to survive the most obscene destruction our demented minds can conceive it is not a permanent comfort. It does not excuse us from the horrors that humans are capable of. Sharks may be ruthless and unrepentant killers, but that is their method of survival. Only a few animals besides humans kill for the fun of it or for ritualistic purposes. 

Wild dogs will kill each other and their pups, like many other animals, and it seems to be merely for spite. Yet, looking more closely at their lives, however, it is much more related to the cruelty of their environment and the genetic warfare that goes on endlessly. Humans are conscious of their actions in ways that other animals cannot be, and we can choose whether to be needlessly cruel or not. 

It is a terrible thing, but most of us are cruel in at least some ways, such as vaporizing ants with magnifying glasses and certainly by our crass methods of harvesting fish and other meat sources. We might pick out a few edible fish from trawler nets and throw away tons of "inedible" stuff that dies because of pressure changes or other trauma suffered thereby. Cruelty is our way of life, even if all we do is torture plants. I cannot tell you how a plant feels or if a forest suffers the loss of friends.

Nature will get us in the end, of course, since all previous species have all gone extinct. There may be a few leftover species that are unchanged from prehistoric times, like tube worms, horseshoe crabs, nautiluses and other primitive lifeforms. If humans are able to survive all future catastrophes as well as sharks (which have nearly met their match as we drive them to ever-shrinking numbers) then perhaps we might be around a hundred million years from now. Yet, we might escape the Earth and travel to the stars, but whoever remains behind will eventually succumb to the unavoidable calamities befalling all planets -- heat death. Heat either overwhelms us or leaves us utterly frozen, one or the other.

We blame the Sun for our current climate problems, but we really know it is our own fault. It doesn't matter, really, because after any person is dead their problems disappear with them. Eventually, when all of us are dead, those problems will belong to someone or something else. If one believes in magical things, and that there is an afterlife, then perhaps we are supposed to be punished for the terrible things we do. Yet, like hanging a man who tortures and murders children, it may rid the world of one monster but does not return the innocent children to their mourning parents. Just because we burn in Hell because we burned down our home planet does not fix the planet.

I am not convinced of the reality of the afterlife, at least not in such a black and white way. I almost feel completely devoid of religion, but that does not mean I feel free to commit terrible acts with no fear of retribution. I just don't have such desires. I don't want to murder people or steal things,  regardless of whether some God exists or not. Yet, despite their supposed belief in God, some people have no empathy whatsoever, no regard for the vast pain and suffering they might cause.

So religion is not the issue. It is just a reaction in my own mind, a sadness that visits me whenever it wishes. The sadness comes and goes whenever it likes, but someday it will have no one left to visit, or no one left that cares. I can try to ignore it, to just don't worry, be happy. That is OK for me, but it is not enough when I think of my grandchildren. I worry for them, and I am not happy about the world I will leave them.

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