Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Not about politics -- really -- AFTERLIFE -- Points to Ponder

This NYT article caught my eye as I wade through my political depression. The article is entitled "The Importance of the Afterlife -- Seriously" by Samuel Sheffler. I post it below and here. I urge you to read it.

I wrote to Dr. Sheffler a few thoughts ... naturally. I post my letter to him:

Dear Professor Scheffler. I enjoyed your article in the NYT tremendously. I happened upon it while perusing its online edition. My six decade existence has been consumed with the important questions of life. I seemed to be much more mature at 11 years old when I told my mother (who was consumed by a fear of death) that after all one gives life to children but one also gives them death. Well, perhaps I did not at 11 years old use the word "one." I digress. 

I have been consumed by not only death but religious thought and the "why" of it all. What could be a reason for all the suffering, illness and ultimately death interspersed with a few joyous moments? Why do we not only live life but why do we sentence children to this no way out existential conundrum?

My very smart partner has always thought the drumbeat of the generations after generations signifies a oneness with all humanity. I came up short in that I could not answer my own questions and still, the answers elude. Your article, though, puts a new perspective on my questions and, indeed, I will have to think on it more as the airwaves blister a cacophonous sound of people writhing in pain, screaming and our fellow man inflicting unspeakable torture and death upon innocents before many of those innocents even get a chance to see life or, as the great scientist and thinker Jay Stephen Gould called it, the non-overlapping magistaria of it all. 

Perhaps we keep life going because, well, it is so beautiful to see the grandeur of the planet and the miraculous universe around it. Perhaps we do it, too, as your article gives one pause to think, because we know whether we have children or not that life will follow into eternity or at least until the physical end of all of it. Therefore, what we say and do now has an impact on all that comes after us. It gives us purpose.

Despite not having children I have composed opinion taking a position on the political spectrum which does not center around the accumulation of gobs of money but tries rather to advocate for the poor, the disabled, the elderly and the powerless. Since I am childless why should I care? I am not sure except that I believe it is my gift, no matter how small, and my hope that future generations if they care to study our time come across my thoughts and in some small way I can convince others to be an advocate for those whom society oft discards. I have found MY purpose in that.

The philosopher Schopenhauer's centrifugal point when describing man is his will to live. I add to that a will to live a life that is kinder and gentler than what our parents bestowed upon us. That is the hope that sustains me.

Your article gives me pause for more thought. It is wonderful and magisterially done!

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