Saturday, March 25, 2017

life will be the death of me

As I watched the chase, the narrator explained that the baby caribou had fifty-fifty odds of escaping, having become separated from the herd.  Whether this one in particular gets away is then irrelevant.  A singular cross-section frozen in time, being caught on film, but representing an overarching picture in which the caribou is both dead and alive.

My eyes teared up well before seeing how it played out.  Less moved by the suspense coming to its abrupt end, the desperate futile cry of a child, as the wolf's jaws crunched through bone.  It's what happens, whether it happened to this one in particular, or not.

We are all that caribou, just trying to make sense of the world we've been born into, until someone bigger and stronger gets hungry.  Or we get sick, or fall down the stairs, or whatever else.  If that caribou's death isn't anything to mourn nor fear, then why worry about anything?

Do whatever you want to do, hurt yourself, hurt others, live your life however you feel like living it.  If it gets you or anyone else killed, it doesn't matter.  Thus, merely squandering it certainly wouldn't matter either.  Stay in bed all day, become an alcoholic, whatever.  The reality not being that this is a bad idea or ill-advised, but rather, that it's simply not what we do.  Except when it is.

The question here is how much value we place on life.  Our own lives, intrinsic to how we feel about life itself.  Death is a part of life, in an overarching scheme of how it all comes together, though it is because of this, that I struggle with what such objectivity means.  If everything on earth dies, it will enable entirely new and different organisms to form millions of years from now.  It's an equation in which there can be no objective value placed on any of it.  No matter what happens, life is a force of nature that never goes away.

It is because I am introspective that I also understand that I'm not really so objective.  I don't want blue whales to go extinct, let alone all life on earth.  When I lose a loved one, it hurts.  When my own demise looms, I'm afraid.  I am acutely aware that I am not alone in this.  Caribou feel much the same way, my own feelings being of no more significance than theirs.  With few exceptions, we all feel this way.  Even the wolves.

For those that have no fear of death, no concern for loss, I have none for them.  No more emotion for their demise than I have for the well-being of a rock.  Empathy means feeling what they feel, to the best of my ability to interpret it.  Death itself isn't really the part that makes me cry.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It doesn't look like you understand how un-objective you are at all, actually. The whole video, this is what you zoned in on, very exclusively. You've thought about the world the same way over and over again, and here it is, reinforcing it all again.

Most hunts are fruitless. Did you not feel compassion towards the hungry wolves, or the leopards, the penguins in the cold, the polar bear giving its cubbos the last of what it had left of its fat reserves, all of which need to kill something in order to survive? Or did you just feel it for one selective individual, focusing on one single event, in isolation from everything else? I imagine that you don't. It would be somewhat difficult, if not impossible to feel that way, if you feel empathy towards anything else apart from that one caribou.