Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Nihilists Among and Within Us

I am aghast at my own interior question as I read a comment on a post about Wendell Berry.

I’m a fan, so I bring my own prejudices and presuppositions as I read.

But I’m also a fan not just of Mr. Berry, but of my species.  Turns out I’m not alone in that, but also turns out that not all of we humans feel the same way.

So I read a comment from (I am guessing) a young man with only some identifying initials as his tag, a comment that suggests the earth will only be safe from humans when (a) there are less of us and (b) a tyrant with the vision and will to impose it emerges who will force us to submit to the author’s vision of what it will take to save planet earth from us (including, apparently, making plans for the lessening of us).

Why am I so aghast with myself?

Because the hubris attacked is the hubris displayed and my internal reaction is to invite the author into his own logic, which is a form of invitation to his own suicide.

For if one really believes (or so I am thinking) that there need be less of us, should not the proponent of the lessening go first, lead the way, annihilate self to save earth?  Does not the one who suggests tyranny as a form of problem solving inevitably see himself either as the tyrant or on the tyrant’s side?  When does the proponent of tyranny ever volunteer to be on the losing side of the tyrant’s rage?  When someone suggests destruction as the solution, when do they ever imagine it as their destruction or their destruction alone?

I have no patience for the illogic of the one who would claim to solve any problem by killing simply because they never seem to simply go quietly into their own good night without wanting to take a whole host of the rest of us along for the ride.

All of that gets wrapped in a nanosecond of a kernel of a thought in my own head, none the kinder for its locus – the thought that he who would wish for the end of his species is more than welcome to go first.

And I am aghast.

For I am not the young man I presume to be writing.

His view is not my own.

Yet how easy to succumb to the death view of things even in my own thinking.

One cannot taunt someone into suicide and think one’s self civilized, let alone godly and loving.

How easy it is to allow the anger of the other to infect my own thinking.

I am aghast.

And the enemy – well, she is me.

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