Monday, March 27, 2017

of grave importance

When I was little, there was this story in the news, about a desperate effort to save the life of a baby girl, by transplanting her with the heart of a chimp's.  At six years old or so, I had no idea how cruel the world was, so this struck me as extraordinarily cruel.  I cried, but not for the little girl.  I cried for the chimp.  The girl was an unfortunate casualty of nature, but the chimp was murdered.

I've written about such things a lot over the years.  When I was a little older, I wrote a poem about a bird that I'd tried to save from my cat.  It died in the palm of my hand.  The last line being about the spasm that went through it's body, a single flap of its wings, before going still.  I was moved by the concept that it was in that moment, taking it's final flight.

The natural world is far more brutal than all the evil humanity will ever do, and yet, we wouldn't call a natural disaster a genocide.  Evil without agency makes no sense, and yet, I don't believe that there's any real difference there.  Agency itself being an illusion.  Evil is an illusion.  I've often tried to remove agency from the equation, but the impact it has on how I feel about these things persists.  It's the most difficult part to reconcile.  It is when we inflict suffering and death on each other, on purpose, that it upsets me the most.

Wolves do so without conceptualizing it one way or another, while people do so while fabricating all sorts of nonsense, in lieu of facing what it really means.  There is common criticism of our culture, that we don't discuss death enough.  That we don't know how to cope with it, because we're afraid to even talk about it.  I'd go a step further, and add that even of those that do, by making up stories about an afterlife or harmoniously returning to oneness with the cosmos or whatever else- this is really no better.  It's still not really death that's being discussed, when it's very existence can't be acknowledged..

I do understand not wanting to think about it.  Not wanting to be depressed by it.  From just putting it out of your mind, to philosophical rationalizations, to religious fantasies that help us cope. I can't blame anyone for not being interested in delving into the subject the way that I do.   I'm torn between justifying my approach, and thinking that for better or worse, it's really just the sort of person I am.  The sort of person I've always been.

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