Standing on a pile of corpses
[In the darkest day of 2018, it is proper to think about the darkness that surrounds us]
When we think about the history of humanity, we focus on its highlights.
Galileo discovering the moons of Jupiter. Edward Jenner developing the first pox vaccine. Emmy Noether setting the mathematical foundation of modern physics.
We stand on the shoulders of giants, we say, that have elevated us over the clouds so we can see the stars above.
I believe a more apt metaphor is that we stand on a pile of nameless corpses.
Because for each great human that made it to the history books, a million have been forgotten. And each of them, knowingly or unknowingly, it is part of our legacy.
And most of them are dead.
100 billion humans have been born and died, most in undignified circumstances of sickness and age, and most by no choice of their own. They are now part of the pile of corpses.
7 billion people remain alive. And even though our lives are much better than those of the people from 1000 years ago, from 100 years ago and even from 10 years ago, we still suffer.
Many of our living kin live in sickness and hunger. Even amongst the most fortunate we wrestle with mental illness and accidents and the plights of aging.
We do not stand proud, but afraid and resigned to become yet another layer of the pile of corpses.
For not a single human lives free of the tyranny of death. We can choose to embrace it early, but we cannot still postpone it, not for much.
And so the pile of corpses grows, too fast for us to properly mourn the fallen.
There is a glimmer of hope, that the pile of corpses will stop growing as we come of age as a civilization. That we will stop the non consensual suffering we experience, and death will be no more for those who want to defy it.
That we will have, for the first time in history, time to breathe and reflect and remember all the nameless people who came before. To properly ponder without having to constantly struggle over our survival, and leaving behind extreme suffering.
To finally give a proper burial to the pile of corpses we stand on, and decide what to do with our piece of the universe.
But we are not guaranteed this happy ending—the book of humanity might suddenly end, without us having a chance to dictate the final words.
The worst we have endured is not a good predictor of the worst that it is to come, and for all we know the horrors ahead may be the ones that end us.
And then the pile of corpses will stop growing, but so will our civilization.
And all there will be left is an inanimate pile of corpses floating through the cosmos, surrounded by the cold and uncaring void.
Thanks to Tam Borine for proofreading the text. This text was used as part of a 2018 private secular solstice celebration in Madrid, Spain.