#Idea – Don’t Try to Leave a Legacy / 13.04.20

I have been wondering
Why we make more people
If they’re going to suffer and eventually die.
And why, particularly,
Do some people bring children into environments
That are so harsh
And that offer so few opportunities?

When you have a child of your own
You take an optimistic view
You gamble (…perhaps not consciously)
That all the happiness your kid will experience
Will outweigh all of the pain that they will experience.

Put another way
You posit that it’s better to exist, than not to.
And that life will be a ‘net positive’,
(From an existential point of view).

black white universe photo
Photo by europeanspaceagency

And so, you make a bet
(…again, perhaps not consciously)
That the good you can do in the (…roughly) first 18 years of life
Will be enough to offset the possibility of suffering in the next 70 years (…roughly).
Once the kids are ‘all grown up’, have long fled the nest
And no longer listen to a word you say.

And, there’s also this idea of ‘legacy’
Responsible for so many new lives
Some people have children because they wish to leave something tangible
Something that lives, breathes
And remembers
Even when they no longer can.
If you die, but your genes are passed on
Do you survive, in some way?

Not in the literal sense,
But perhaps you do for a while,
Perhaps there’s a memorial of some sorts
An archive of your activity on social media
The pictures you took and that were taken of you
And, if you’re lucky
Tall tales your descendants tell about you
A Wikipedia entry
Or a song, book or screenplay that they write about you.

black white universe photo
Photo by Fan.D & Dav.C Photgraphy

Does anyone survive in a long enough timeframe?
Probably not.
And there’s probably no use in trying.

Consider, perhaps:
Even if you do pass your genes along
And create a perfectly well-adjusted person
Who goes on to live a long and happy life
(…which I hope you do, should you choose to have kids)
One day, long after you are gone, your genetic line will be broken
Someone in the line of descendants is going to fail to reproduce.
If not,
Something will eventually cause the species to collapse (…given a long enough timeframe)
If the death of the sun doesn’t get us first
The death of the universe will
Though these things appear to happen in ridiculously extended timeframes
That we can’t possibly conceive of.

As such,
In a long enough timeframe
There are no survivors.
And no enduring legacy
I don’t think it’s worth trying to outwit
Stellar evolution, entropy, biology or the heat death of the universe.
Just enjoy your moment in the sun.
And be as good as you possibly can to your kids,
If you choose to have them.

Cover Image by WikiImages (Pixabay)

#Idea – The Commoditisation of (Some) People / 13.04.20

Can you commoditise people?
Not purposefully, of course.
But yes, I think you can, if you have a lot of people
More people than socially and economically useful work*
(…as I think we do today).

Still, maybe you can’t commoditise everyone.
We still hold (irrationally?) high regard for famous people,
Or those with particular, rare skills (…and consequential economic value)
But with such enormous quantities of us
Supply and dynamics come into the equation
(…from a labour market perspective).

Consider the economic catastrophe that is the COVID-19 pandemic
(…ongoing as I write this).
Were you also deemed ‘surplus to requirements’?

Maybe it’s just me,
The more of us there are
The less you feel your individual value. 
Just one of billions upon billions,
Being ‘nobody special’
(…at least economically).

*See David Graeber’s ‘Bullshit Jobs’

Image by StockSnap (Pixabay)

#Idea – Minimalism Vs Maximalism / 13.04.20

I’d like to propose another way to think about ‘minimalism’.

Relative to other humans from other places and eras,
We’re actually a ‘maximalist’ society.
And because the paradigm is so firmly established
Many of us have never considered it.

For hundreds of thousands (…perhaps millions) of years, we’ve possessed mainly what we could carry with us.
With the advent of agriculture (and the consequent move to a more static way of life), plus the more defined idea of ‘property’, this changed.
But it’s only been in the last century or so that the average person has really been able to let their acquisition of things get out of hand.
For that, we can perhaps blame mass production, along with the cost of ‘stuff’ decreasing, and the access to stuff increasing.

Anyway, many would agree that a large number of us today (…in the developed world at least) simply have too many possessions (…and in some countries more than others).

We even have a term (‘minimalist’) for people who take a more conscious approach to the acquisition of things – thus separating out these minimalists out as exceptional, perhaps austere.

So, from the perspective of history – it’s not that some people are minimalist – it’s that many of us today are maximalist.

Image. by Boris Thaser