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Worth and Humanitarianism

By Punkerslut

Image by NiD
Image: "Free" by NiD

Start Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2002
Finish Date: Thursday, January 31, 2002

     I will not live forever. All of the people around me will not live forever, either. There have been various groups to assert that there is eternal life, "eternal salvation," but such claims bring with them no evidence and often find themselves in mockery of reason and intellectual examination. However, the point of this essay is not to criticize religion, nor is it to criticize religionists. Whether or not there is an afterlife, there is the life: our daily troubles and hardships, that stress and strengthen us; our daily loves and admirations, that frustrate and fill us with warmth. We are all mortal beings, and we will all eventually perish, by whatever means it is. There is, however, the probable hope that perhaps science will save us from our eternal face. Perhaps a medical invention will allow certain, wealthy individuals to live for thousands of years, or perhaps forever. However, as far as science is concerned today, and as far as animalia is concerned, we all have a limited amount of years in our life - a limited amount of hours and minutes, a limited amount of breaths and thoughts - until we meet eternal sleep. Of death, it is nothingness. We will to cease to have thoughts, cease to be conscious, and cease to be sensory. Just as death brings an end to homeostatic systems of respiration and digestion - wholly bodily functions - death also brings an end to consciousness.

     Surely, however, there is the question of a types of immortality. To varying degrees, Hitler and Cicero, Descartes and Hume, and Newton and Einstein are all individuals which have attained immortality. They will forever grace the pages of history books, being the monumental figures which have influenced society. The foundation that Newton laid, later to be remodeled by Einstein and still remodeled by modern physicists, has had an impact on our knowledge and our inventions. Understanding the mechanics of the Universe has always been a typical - yet invaluable - pursuit of any civilized people. There have been others; literary giants who have turned our hearts ablaze with fiery emotion, such as Lev Nik Tolstoi's story of how the lonely cobbler found god, and such as Mark Twain's undying tale of a runaway slave with a runaway child. The political theorists such as Marx, Engels, Smith, Locke, Machiavelli, Godwin, among others, as well as the politicians themselves such as Roosevelt, Kennedy, Jefferson, Churchill, Stalin, Lenin, as others, have all had an degree of influence on the civilizations of the world. These men, in the entirely mortal sense, have attained a degree of unleveled immortality, only equaled by each other. All individuals in this world have this immortality, but it's all of degrees. We all influence each other with our opinions and our ideas. In this sense, we all have a sort of immortality. As for ourselves, it depends on how we direct this immortality, that it becomes what we like it to be.

     Immortality of culture and society is only a limited immortality, though. In no sense is it a real immortality, or is it a prolonged consciousness beyond death, but to a particular degree, to have an impact on the way people think and believe is a superb feeling. There will be an immortal impact. Even if not a largely important political, literary, or scientific impact, everyone can have offspring and then their children are existent because of the previous generation. This type of immortal impact is parallel to the belief, however, that humanity - or even just life - will go on forever. Will life end or will it go on changing and evolving forever? As far as science can tell so far, life will not and cannot go on living forever. Our Universe is running on a limited source of energy. Once this energy runs out, in all its various forms, then life will cease to exist forever. Stars have been an important key factor in the growth and development of life; the formation of new stars, however, has significantly decreased over the least billion years. In fact, in 100 trillion years, it is speculated that the last star in the Universe will cease to exist. To quote one scientific article concerning such inevitability of life...

"But there is another sort of eternal life that we hope for, one in the temporal realm. In the conclusion to Origin of Species, Charles Darwin wrote: 'As all the living forms of life are lineal descendants of those which lived before the Cambrian epoch, we may feel certain that the ordinary succession by generation has never once been broken .... Hence we may look with some confidence to a secure future of great length.' The sun will eventually exhaust its hydrogen fuel, and life as we know it on our home planet will eventually end, but the human race is resilient. Our progeny will seek new homes, spreading into every corner of the universe just as organisms have colonized every possible niche of the earth. Death and evil will take their toll, pain and worry may never go away, but somewhere we expect that some of our children will carry on.


"The ultimate limits on life will in any case become significant only on timescales that are truly cosmic. Still, for some it may seem disturbing that life, certainly in its physical incarnation, must come to an end. But to us, it is remarkable that even with our limited knowledge, we can draw conclusions about such grand issues. Perhaps being cognizant of our fascinating universe and our destiny within it is a greater gift than being able to inhabit it forever." ["The Fate of Life in the Universe," in Scientific American, by Lawrence M. Krauss and Glenn D. Starkman.]

     Of what value, then do we assign to our lives? It is true that one day our children's children's children will cease to be alive. It is also true that whatever impact that we rendered upon society and culture will always inevitably be destroyed just the children of future generations will be destroyed. The purpose of writing a book, of composing a speech, of fighting a war, is so that the next generation's thinkers may meticulously examine the aspects of such events. So that the men of the next generation may go over the words of Susan B. Anthony's speeches, their hearts being warmed by the affection and warmth of such speeches. So that men of learning may search through the sentences and paragraphs of Paine's The Rights of Man, unveiling the equality of humans intended by its author. So that the freedom earned by Union soldiers fighting the Confederacy will preserve the rights of African humans. These things, however, will all come to mean nothing, because life will cease to exist at a certain time. The last civilization, hopefully one that has finally found peace, will come to crumble, like every civilization before it. Of what value, then, are our earthly actions when the final earthly consequence will always be death? If this is true - which modern science would confirm - then what are our actions really worth?

     I can say with perfect confidence that our actions for an immortal civilization are worth just as much as they are for a mortal one! Every moment paused for a kiss, a touch of affection, is still a moment paused for the sake of brightening another's day; every advance in science is still progression that will make life easier; and every sentence of every book, every stanza of every poem, is still written with the hopes of the making hearts soar! When enough years pass, what we did today may not matter, but it will always matter for today. It will matter that we were there for our friends, it will matter that our hands were gentle when offering a touch of compassion to anyone whose plight was more than they could bear; it will still matter that we are willing to smile in the darkest days. When a man is willing to help a small child cross the street - fear-drenched hand entrusted in the palm of wisdom - it is still a valuable sign of an all the more valuable virtue: unhindered kindness.

     The rains of tomorrow will wash away the sins and triumphs of today, but what will matter is that we were there to commit those sins and triumphs. Forever etched on the mind of our friends will be our aid that we offered. Not undyingly stored in the library of human literature, but undyingly stored in the heart of compassion, only forgotten at death. That we had enough will, enough desire in the emancipation from unhappiness, will matter because of itself. That we had in it ourselves as individuals to challenge the world to think different, to be different, to trust in itself, to change; that we did these things will matter as we do them. When we strive to be as understanding and empathetic as we can be - so that every action we commit is thoughtful and considerate - it has worth. Reformers will come and pass, scientists and statesmen following in their tracks. The winds and rains of history will destroy the small remnants that we know of these people and soon enough, by the eventual demise of civilization and life, but what they did that pushed the hearts of men and woman to do more than they ever thought they could do. The encouragement, the sympathetic and thoughtful concerns, the caring affection, the unbridled warmth, values and virtues among our minds and hearts are as real today as they will ever be.

     The beauty of the horizon will be captured a million times in poetry, just as the ocean will be painted, and the sky photographed. Lovers, held lofty and tightly in the heat exchange of their bodies, will not see the demise of civilization, but they still sit perched, still reveling in happiness, still loving each other, still loving life. There will be days when we cry ourselves awake, in the same manner we slept, and there is nothing but the abiding darkness to hear our tears and see our pain. But there will be days as such when a friend will hold us, make sure everything will be fine, will love us. Days, unparalleled to the consistency of a normal routine, where we feel like eagles a thousand miles above the highest tree. There may be no tomorrow when enough years pass, when we can sleep knowing we will not wake, when we breath knowing we will not breath again, and affection will hold as much value until we are no more. Until we are unconscious, unable to render our sympathies and affections on our fellow creatures, our emotions will always matter.

     Every moment paused for a kiss, a touch of affection, is still a moment paused for the sake of brightening another's day; every advance in science is still progression that will make life easier; and every sentence of every book, every stanza of every poem, is still written with the hopes of the making hearts soar.


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