Wednesday, April 05, 2017

How to enjoy the spring rains in a world of evil

Springtime in Atlanta is a feast of nature. Birds sing, trees blossom, flowers provide a profusion of bloom. Between the warm sunshine and the cleansing rains, living in this Southern city is like living in a garden. How could we not find bliss in this plenitude?

Because there is evil in the world, ought we to temper our joy with grief? The history of mankind is a gruesome one, filled with brutality, sadism, torture, rape, slow and agonizing death.  Who can ignore the atrocities from ancient times until now, the burning of witches, the killing of babies, the humiliating tortures of Abu Ghraib? Gas attacks and bombing in Syria? How can we not despair over the abyss of cruelty fed by greedy administrations from Russia and our own country? Whether the consolidating power of a despot, or the punishments of a parade of religions , or the genocide, killing, and enslavement of minorities, human history is one of slaughter and oppression of every magnitude. 

The person I loved most in the world was brutally beaten and murdered. At times I've empathized, if not envied, my loved ones who have killed themselves. Both my parents suffered agonizing deaths in hospices where staff mostly ignored them, leaving them in pain. The lack of empathy or concern for suffering permeates our society. Indifference has been more the rule throughout history than compassion. Indifference stains my own life as it must so many of us. Camus wrote that despite everything we must create values and do what we can to perpetuate those values. Jean Paul Sartre & Simone de Beauvoir dedicated their lives to fighting for those values. The most noble lives are those that compassionate people have dedicated to better the lives of others in need. Most of us do not live up to such an ideal, settling instead for being pacifists ourselves, expressing liberal values of care for all, loving nature, but doing little directly to achieve either world peace or to end poverty, famine, and suffering. 

For all the joys I take in life-- love, friendship, art, philosophy, literature, and music, I never lose my pessimistic view that evil will most likely win out. Humans will destroy themselves and take much of natural wildlife and the planet with them. Is it absurd to find pleasure in staring at Jupiter on a dark night? Is it absurd to admire and spend so much time in Tolstoy's War and Peace, to love and imagine the world of the woodcuts of Hiroshige, to listen repeatedly to Mozart's Jupiter symphony, his last? No doubt. But I know no other way to live. 


No comments:

Post a Comment