As you rapidly approach your ‘use by’ date, is there anything to look forward to? Yes! There is a heaven or maybe a haven awaiting you after your mortal demise. It’s that blissful state of non-existence where nothing that bothered you in life can ever bother you again. Is life under any circumstances better than non-existence or will there be circumstances where people really will ‘curse their mother for giving them birth’ (to paraphrase a line from Captain Bligh in the 1962 movie version of “Mutiny on the Bounty”)? You couldn’t look forward from your pre-life non-existence to your existence, but at least you can now look forward to your return to non-existence.
There’s something to be said for the state of being we call non-existence. “Life’s a bitch and then you die” goes the saying. No one apparently wants to die (except for those prone to suicide) even if you have no ultimate choice in the matter. Still, it’s curious that few seem to lament having missed out on the first 13.7 billion years of the history of the Universe. Maybe that’s because we’re aware of all the nasties we escaped. Quite apart from missing out on all those mass extinctions, I mean if you were born after the second half of the 20th Century, you missed out being involved with World War One and World War Two and the Great Depression. You missed the Black Plague, the American Civil War, the American Revolution, the Salem witch trials, the French Revolution, being caught up in the disaster that struck Pompeii (or the Titanic, Lusitanian and Hindenburg) and the Spanish Inquisition. You missed out on the hardships of an Ice Age nomadic; one of the great unwashed put to work on the construction gangs building the pyramids, and the hardships of the American pioneers or seamen in the days of sail in the British Navy. You weren’t among the Maya, Incas and Aztecs who got to meet, greet and die at the hands of the Spanish. Consider yourself lucky that you missed out being a minority in a society that made life hell for (religious, political, racial, etc.) minorities.
Okay, what’s past is past and you missed out on a lot of hard times for which you should be quite grateful, for but a throw of the dice; well the odds are that you’re a happier little vegemite in the here and now and probably wouldn’t trade your lot for a random slot somewhere and some-when back then. On balance, the further back in time you go, the relatively less pleasant would have been your lot. But, the future will be ever better will it not? Therefore, life’s bowl of cherries gets ever bigger and riper so what’s the point of kicking-the-bucket?
Since you don’t want to die, then you must be optimistic that you won’t run into any of those Captain Bligh ‘curse your mother’ nasties in your immortal future. However, I’m with the crowd that goes along with the philosophy that a pessimist is hardly ever disappointed but an optimist frequently is. When it comes to historical vs. future nasties, well I’m going to say “you ain’t seen anything yet”.
The ultimate problem to end all problems is the human being. The human being, Homo sapiens, is no matter how you slice and dice it, a very nasty piece of work, who, when stripped down to his or her core, is at best rude; inconsiderate; obnoxious; short-tempered; self-centred; territorial; vindictive; jealous; violent and often prone to shoot first and ask questions later; destructive and often boarding on downright cruelty just for the sake of being cruel, which doesn’t auger well for paradise on Earth, then or now or anytime soon. Perhaps that lends credence to the Biblical idea that man (and woman) was created in God’s image, for the Old Testament God is the ultimate of ultimates in terms of being a nasty piece of work. God is the bastard to end all bastards and the proof of that pudding is found in the text of the Bible itself. God of the Old Testament makes Stalin et al. look like Cub Scouts in comparison. Anyway, that’s another topic in its own right -back to the human being.
Now if daily personal experiences don’t confirm my statement about how fundamentally nasty the human being is, consult your daily newspaper or nightly TV news bulletin. [Wasn’t there a song written once about a ‘horror movie right there on my TV screen – it’s the 6:30 news’?] Or take that new social networking phenomenon Facebook as an illustration of the human race gone berserk. You have lots of stories of how a young teenager invites via Facebook his or her relatively few friends to their birthday (or other social) party. Of course hundreds of party crashers show up, often drunk and assaulting the police when they are inevitably called in. A tribute page on Facebook is posted to honour the passing away of someone, but the site ends up being defaced by uncaring idiots. On Facebook, and no doubt other video sharing sites, seriously disturbed people post their videos of themselves torturing animals. Last, but hardly least, Facebook (as well as any other Internet message boards, blog sites, web areas where you can post essays, etc.) users can claim to be anyone they like. Some people use their real names; many use pseudonyms (like pen-names, pet-names, aliases). But since anyone can use any name they like, without providing any proof of being who they say they are, identity theft is rampant. And apparently, if you’re the victim on online identify theft it’s a major pain in the butt to prove your real identity and your innocence to that web site’s powers-that-be.
There is a certain percentage of people who just ‘will not’ conform. A select few, no matter how often they read or are told the message, no matter the penalty, will not refrain from drinking and driving; they will not refrain from parking in spaces reserved for the handicapped; they will not refrain from speeding; they will not refrain from wheeling a trolley full of their groceries into the 12-items-or-less express checkout; they will not use a litter basket; and I’m sure you can extend the list a hundredfold. The ‘will nots’ just basically do whatever they damn well please, whenever they damn well please, to whomever they damn well please and to hell with anyone and everyone else!
This is your human species and it’s out of control. A nasty piece of work indeed!
Nasty doesn’t even begin to adequately describe some of what you experience, read or see. It’s sometimes gotten to the stage where every time I learn about the death of someone I rejoice – that’s one less problem in the world. Unfortunately, that one person is rapidly replaced by two other problems.
As far as that 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami is concerned, I’d like to think of it not so much as a deliberate act of God (though I wouldn’t put it past Him, assuming a Him of course) but as a ‘revenge of the whales’. In fact I doubt the whales (and the dolphins too) would shed one tear (if they could shed a tear that is) if the entire Japanese nation sank beneath the waves. They might even come up with a new whale song in celebration.
I’m always glad of heart to hear about humans killing humans – it’s no less than humans deserve. Even better is when an animal kills a human – it goes a tiny fraction of the way towards redressing the massive imbalance of humans slaughtering animals. So I’m happy very time sharks rule the waves, even if just for a few moments.
Another really good news story is six teenage drunken hoods who wipe themselves out by crashing their stolen car into a tree – even if it’s bad luck to the owner of the vehicle and the tree. But, still that’s a small price to pay to be rid of some of the world’s rift-raft no-hopers. Good riddance to bad rubbish as the saying goes, especially if in the process of snuffing it they give themselves an honorary Darwin Award – if they fail to pass on their genes, who’s to complain? So better six teens than six over-the-hill-and-off-the-pill set.
So, three cheers for all those who have, and will give, themselves Darwin Awards and remove themselves from the gene pool through sheer stupidity. Let them die now and avoid the rush.
An even better good news headline would be “Billions die in global pandemic” – we could blame God and wash our hands of any responsibility – like the overuse of antibiotics.
I’d even opt for a rogue asteroid to slam into Planet Earth and wipe out humanity full stop. However, I wouldn’t want all those few non-human species left to suffer any more than they already have so I’ll cancel my order for one rogue asteroid.
Actually I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two positives when it comes to the human species. Firstly, humans have existed for only a tiny fraction of the age of the Earth (100 thousand years vs. 4.5 billion years) so must terrestrial biota haven’t had the privilege of meeting us and having to endure us. Secondly, the vast Universe hasn’t had to deal with us either and hopefully it never will. Thus far only one tiny third rock from the Sun has turned cancerous and I sincerely hope we go extinct before we inflict ourselves on any other abode around this, or any other star.
Anyway, back to predicting the future, based on humanity’s traits and why your non-existence might be preferable to a continued existence.
Terrorism isn’t going to go away. Of course the odds that you will be caught up in an act of terrorism are slim, but still, it’s an unnecessary worry – as if you didn’t have enough to worry about.
War isn’t going to go away even if another World War looks here and now rather unlikely.
Civil strife isn’t going to go away.
Racial, religious, whatever (fill in the blank), turmoil and differences isn’t going to go away anytime soon.
Personal disasters, fires, serious illnesses, accidents, car crashes, even aircraft incidents, etc. can happen to any one of us, probably nearly all of us at some time or other, so at the minimum they at least weigh heavy on our minds as to what might and probably will eventually be.
But what, gets better (if anything) and what gets, not just the status quo, but actually gets worse?
Well actually everything gets worse; everything goes to hell in a hand-basket, and ultimately it’s all due to hormones.
One thing you can count on and that’s human’s obeying the Biblical commandment to “be fruitful and multiply” - If that were the be all and end all of it, no problem. Alas, more humans, more problems, less happy endings.
One reason for that is that the more highly educated tend to breed less; the greater unwashed tend to breed more. Translated, the human population is not only increasing, but becoming ever dumber, as those with lower IQ’s produce ever more children with low IQs relative to the higher IQ set, a pattern which keeps on keeping on.
Okay, the limits to growth, human population boom, has been bandied about for generations and we’re still growing. However, it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to extrapolate human growth rates to the point where each human being is allocated one square metre of space to stand in! Obviously there are limits to growth.
The basic solution in the past to an ever expanding population is to keep on diluting the population density (or at least keeping it constant) by ever expanding migration. Okay, but that only works for so long before your finite space runs out and the density of your population increases, and increases, and increases, and then really gets out of hand. We could in theory expand to other planets and outer space habitats, but we’ve already left that option too little too late. Nobody is going to be heading out to Mars before Earth’s population doubles yet again.
The greater the population density, the greater the stress levels – it’s a bit more stressful in peak rush hour than when driving down a country road all by your lonesome. It’s a bit more stressful when you have noisy neighbours on all sides relative to living a hermit’s existence. It’s a bit more stressful shopping for food on a crowded weekend or on a payday relative to an uncrowded Monday morning. But what then happens when the country road becomes another freeway; the neighbours move in where only hermits lived before; when Monday morning at the supermarket is as hectic as a Saturday or a payday afternoon?
Don’t expect any positive changes to rates of graffiti, litter or vandalism.
Incidents of animal and child abuse keep on keeping on, ever increasing. Since wildlife animal populations keep on decreasing, the odds, if you’re an animal at meeting a torturous end, increase.
Enjoy your seafood while it still exists and you can afford it. It won’t be around much longer. Enjoy what wildlife still exists – fast forward several generations and your local wildlife will consist mainly of rats, mice, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and flies.
As to climate change, forget it. Apart from minor tinkering at the edges, nothing will be done. I mean decades after global warming became a common topic, people still drive around in gas guzzlers, usually one person in the car (no increase in car pooling); government civil servants employed to keep the sidewalks free of leaves still use petrol-driven air-blowers. Faced with a choice of a greenhouse gas emitting petrol (gasoline) driven lawnmower or one you push by hand, well, it’s no contest, global warming be damned. People and politicians act for the short term. Neither you, nor your local politician really gives a tinker’s damn about what nasties happen in the long term after you’ve kicked the proverbial bucket. The name of the game in this endless debate over climate change will be to adapt because nothing is going to happen if the past, being the key to the present, being the key to the future, is any guide.
One thing you can count on is refugees – more and more and more of them. The division between the halves and the have-nots will continue to increase. People, being the selfish bastards that they are, will try to crash your party if your party is better than their non-party. There’s religious, economic, political, environmental refugees, so if religious, economic, political and/or environmental conditions continue to go down the gurgler, what hope for you, your neighbourhood, your country, if it is king of the hill?
Now all too often I read about some poor hardship poverty case; a person in desperate need – then comes the fine print; the punch line, the twist in the tale and its usually about some school dropout, often an unmarried mother with five or six kids to support (and one’s on the way). Sympathy goes out the window at the speed of light. My response is that if you’re going to spread your legs for every Tom, Harry and Dick to come along don’t expect the taxpayer to pick up the tab.
In a somewhat similar fashion, doesn’t nearly every developed country shell out zillions to some ‘disadvantaged’ part of their population – who don’t actually have to do anything in return for this free-bee allotment? And, I might add, for all those zillions, you end up with no improvement in their lot. And so the handouts continue, ever continue.
Then too, don’t a goodly proportion of developed nations shell out massive amounts in foreign aid year-after-year, decade-after-decade, to rather ungrateful lesser-developed nations who never seem to get beyond that ‘lesser’ status? They get; we give, again and again and again. Won’t you be glad to finally not have to be on the endlessly giving end?
Who needs it? Get off the treadmill – stop the world and let us off! Well actually there’s no need to rush into things. You’ve adapted this well thus far, another few years of misery – well you can cope with that.
But once the Big Exit comes to pass…
You really don’t want an actual afterlife. I mean even in Heaven (the Biblical version which in all likelihood doesn’t exist) you still got to presumably put up with deadbeats and all those other wacko types, and you still presumably get to keep in touch with current events down below; monitor the great cesspool the Earth has turned into thanks to the human cancer.
In your future state of blissful non-existence, no tsunami, earthquake, volcano, drought, flood, storm, hurricane, tornado, avalanche, asteroid impact, supernova or gamma-ray burst, being swallowed up by a black hole, or related ‘act of god’ needs weigh heavy on your mind. What you don’t have to worry about you don’t have to lose sleep over.
Meanwhile, think of the advantages to your future non-existence. No bills; no taxes; no boss; no horrible neighbours; no teenagers; no screaming brats at the supermarket; no being too hot or too cold; no domestic chores; no aches and pains; no ageing and associated disabilities; no getting up in the morning; no Mother-In-Law (or whatever relative you care to name); no domestic disasters; no crime (violent or otherwise); no disturbing news stories; nothing unpleasant will ever bother you again; and you won’t have to cop any more of Mr. Murphy and his laws.
Maybe that’s what Heaven is ultimately all about; not everlasting ‘life’ (of a sort) but freedom from the trials and tribulations you could have, have, and might have, experienced.
But if you really can’t accept the state of non-existence after your demise (despite the fact that non-existence was your natural state prior to your conception), and you can’t accept the traditional concept of an afterlife (Heaven, hell, spirit-world, whatever) because it relies on a supernatural and unverified (and probably forever unverifiable) transition and violates all the natural known laws, principles and relationships of physics, there is another out. But you have to accept the very real possibility (some would say probability) that you (and all living entities) are simulated beings and you ‘live’ in a virtual reality environment. Your ‘god’ is some sort of computer programmer, maybe terrestrial, more likely as not extraterrestrial. Your ‘life’ is the product of software. But there could be another software program called ‘afterlife’. After your bits and bytes run out in ‘life’, your bits and bytes start up again in ‘afterlife’. Now whether or not that’s a more acceptable proposition to you, well that’s not for me to decide.
P.S. And yes, I acknowledge that perhaps “me” should have been used instead of “us” in the title and elsewhere. But ultimately I have the belief that many others share my point of view.