On Death 3

Some might say that such a vision might produce a callous indifference to life and its problems. After all, if everything will pass and is fleeting, then on a cosmic level all is the same. But I do not find this to be the case. Rather than indifference, life’s very fleetingness, be that a moment in a life, the entirety of one life, or the moment when life itself exists, inspires awe at its preciousness and its potential.

It raises immediate social concerns. If life, both in its specificity and generality is unique and fleeting, why would one not want it to reach its fullest flourishing? Anything less would be a scandalous waste, and it is true that we, particularly those of us who live in the rich world, live in a society that is scandalous in its waste of resources, the most precious of which we all possess by virtue of being born – our own individual lives and those we live in common.

By this I mean, that the use of plants, animals, and the minerals of the planet is necessary for our survival and flourishing, but we confuse the means with the end. There is a joy in being able to offer sustenance, pleasure and comfort to others, but it takes a stronger mind than mine to see how, for example, a fast-food worker finds this in her job. Rather she, and the food she serves, is reduced to being a mechanism for the delivery of fuel in an economy far more profoundly indifferent to her flourishing and that of her customers than any cosmology. That is a tragedy, and, like all tragedies, it is one of our own making and a refusal to think seriously about the fact of death, the fast-food worker’s and our own, be we her customer, employer, or its stockholders.

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