Life has a beginning and an ending. To ignore or debate the inevitable end is is to embrace ignorance. Daily we dream about escaping the inevitable. Hope gives us a safe haven for our fear to rest, where we can escape from the concept of death. Although this seems safe on the surface - living in fear of the end constantly would lead to an anxious existence - but it does open the door for the crazy. Hope can manifest itself in destruction. If you're looking for a way to cheat death, religion holds the key, and religion perverts the world.
For those of us who are not looking for a magic ending, we have to settle for the reality that we, and all that we love, will end. Nature doesn't care one way or the other, Mother Earth isn't going to purposely comfort or kill us, it has no direction. We live at the whim of chaos, we do not all follow the same path. Our health and well-being are not predicated on much more than luck.
John Updike wrote that “Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead. So why, one could say, be afraid of death, when death comes all the time?” Although the thought may make some sense to life's ending, just because we die daily doesn't seem to be an answer regarding the final end. If there is comfort in this thought it would seem to be fleeting, how long can you keep the thought of death at bay? The final moment will be different than the day to day life we experience, Updike may have found his answer, but it is not mine.
Death is hard for the living. When a loved one passes it brings to the forefront your own mortality. The loss is a living pain, it does not leave us unaffected. It is the world. Everything ends, and life begins anew. It may seem callous, but it isn't. Simply put, nothing is in our control.
Except we have religion. A myth of forever life that enraptures the weak and lessens the strong. There is an afterlife, death is an illusion. To get to that afterlife all you must do is obey. Obey and give up what is you. As you watch life die all around you, you just close your eyes to the truth. Hiding behind the sacred texts that claim to have all the answers and listening to the drone of those who are the experts you give up on reality and slide into the delusion that will be with you for the rest of your life. It will not give you rest, maybe hell awaits. It does not give succor, it only provides uncertainty. It will not stop the suffering, or the pain, or alleviate the anguish of a selfish human's desire to be eternal.
Religion keeps us apart and increases the world's suffering. Instead of humans working together for the benefit of all, it separates us into tribes. We work against life, comfort, and health, because of religion. We live alone because of religion.
Great post Neal. We should not be using ideas from religions founded thousands of years ago about how to life and how to die. Especially, if the recipe for having a imaginary good afterlife screws up the one life you have to life,.
When its over, its over. Remembering the good parts among the living should be enough. If it was not good, then it should be a relief.
This to me is the true horror of religion: it allows perfectly decent and sane people to believe by the billions what only lunatics could believe on their own.
-- Sam Harris
Great post Neal.
Once we deal with the divisiveness of religion, we should tackle that of nationalism, irrational, in my view, just like religion.
The patriot would say if I cant live on at least my country can.
S/He dies for country
Smart and poetic.