Re-evaluating ourselves on a regular basis is a good thing. Sure, being overly critical of oneself may not be healthy but not being able to handle criticism whether it comes from yourself or others is arguably much worse. Yearly resolutions are often the outcome of such criticism as they attempt to plot a course for a healthier, happier future even if we find ourselves making the same resolutions while hoping we’ll actually succeed before death becomes us.
In the last year, I’ve given a lot of thought about my death. Having also given time to the opinions of several philosophers and public figures on the subject, I’ve presently come to a comfortable place with it. My only desires are that it’s not too painful, that if it happens while I have pets or anybody else depending on me – I’ve made arrangements to see to their needs and that I don’t leave too much junk behind to burden anybody else with. I expect that living a mostly solitary life gives much more time to think and prepare for the unavoidable event. Perhaps it is because of my own inner peace with it that I can look out at the rest of the world and see the purpose, compassion and even beauty of our lives being on a clock.
As I have mostly pulled back from political discussions with others to avoid the immense concern and even fear that I hold for how things are currently moving not only in the US but also in other countries, it hasn’t been without some amount of guilt. After all, I am a firm believer in the notion that for government to work, people have to be involved. Though I have signed my fair share, I’ve not been fooled into thinking that petitions really influence critical events and decisions. If I ever believed petitions might have some sway over financial interests, the current administration has done it’s best to destroy that idea as it methodically rips apart hard fought progress and hopes of progress in the future. Much more than signing petitions is required. Marches seem to be only marginally more effective.
People are set in their own ideologies. Our ideologies are formed over a lifetime. They represent our upbringing, our education, happy and sad life events, dreams and fears. They are our identities. Even as the cells of our bodies are completely exchanged for new ones several times over our lifetimes, our ideologies are like concrete….except that for most, this concrete gets stronger over time rather than weaker.
After quite some time of avoiding the difficult discussions I’ve recently stuck my toes in the water again. Surely people can still think for themselves and have learned something over the last few years. I know some have because I’ve read their accounts of what motivated them to change. However, tragically the vast majority have not.
Even people from my childhood whom I believe to have grown up to be thoughtful, caring adults still cling to ideas and beliefs that do little but ensure that the future is as bleak as recent history. If these good people aren’t able to see through the greed, hate and prejudice to find compassion for others outside their immediate circle of friends or family, for other beings, why and how can I expect enough others to take that step to make the world a better place?
While standing under a warm shower this morning it became quite clear to me that death is necessary to wipe away the old and offer new beginnings for humanity….for life itself. How tragic it would be to see the people of the planet controlled by individuals that had held power for generations with their ideologies and misconceptions emblazoned deeper and deeper in their consciousnesses. Actually, I doubt our species would have survived this long if it weren’t for death. We would have killed ourselves off by now. The end.
But that’s not the end. Our life spans are on average lengthening – even though in the US they have shortened in recent years. In our fear of death we seek ways to lengthen our stay here….mostly through technology. We have artificial replacements for failed and damaged organs and limbs. We are learning to manipulate DNA to eliminate disease and trying to find the secrets of aging to stop it. If that fails, others are working on digitizing lifetime memories and personalities to be used in wholly artificial means…. entities that can be completely replaced as needed or improved in the future to last…forever.
Imagine how tragic that might be. Not only would the same egotistical personalities continue to crave more power, industries will thrive on this ever expanding market.
The possibilities of our species awe me….and they sadden me. I’d like to be around to see if humans surprise me and actually ever elevate compassion for all life to be paramount. However, seeing what is happening in this one short lifetime is enough to convince me we won’t. I do hope that on another planet, in some distant galaxy or even in another universe, some species has or will live up to the challenge since I have little hope for this one.