Friday, November 14, 2014

Overcoming Despair

Know thy enemy.

If Goodness were to have an enemy, I believe it would be Despair.

Despair (the incarnation thereof, from Neil Gaiman's Sandman)
Evil, if it exists is a psychotic aberration, a storybook concoction to distract us from the true horror around us, among us and even within us.  Despair, on the other hand, is all too real, whether in the form of an unhappy professional's Monday morning commute, a monthly mortgage on a lonely house, or an itchy scalp that won't go away.  In life, the multitudes of challenges we face, from ticks to terrorists, not a single one is inherently evil, they are merely dark facets of reality, the requisite shadows of anyone who seeks light.

In a previous blog post I commented on that eventual state of darkness, we must all one day face, death.  There are many who will cite scripture and authority to support the delusional position of an afterlife to combat such a despairing destination.  In my opinion such a delusional position distracts us from the challenges in our lives, in building towards a "heaven" here on Earth.  Still, there is an element of merit in such a belief in a second chance, if only that if we fuck up our one true chance in life we can feel good in those moments that are otherwise rife with despair.

Death in all likelihood actually holds for us the ultimate peace of nonexistence, an assured peace once we have lived our whole life, a tapestry woven of threads of joy and suffering.  At first blush, we might think being positive in every moment and ignoring the dark patches is a worthy way to live.  If one is to live with integrity, however, one must confront the presence of suffering by other living things, so long as we don't permit it to drown us in an ocean of despair.

Dare to stare despair in the face!  Indeed, there is so much contradiction in this life that living sincerely can make staying on a sane path difficult at times.  Too many examples shatter the idea that Goodness occurs naturally and of its own accord in this world.  We celebrate the immensely expensive military killing machines and the humans who wield them ostensibly to seek peace, hardly considering the despair and hatred we stir in our  fellow humans.  At an even more fundamental level we destroy life to sustain our nutritional lives, rarely taking a moment to contemplate the plants and animals that were confined, killed and converted into delicious food.

And so we live in constant suspension of disbelief, trying to see only the Goodness in the walk through the world while forgetting the suffering we cause with each footfall.  We pretty much ignore every planetary issue that is obviously driven by human population, reveling in increasing our numbers while our planet cries at every additional billion humans we add to its overladen environment.

I wish I could provide a better light at the end of this dark tunnel.  Alas, the hard truth is living as individuals and groups with the most positive intentions will never result in a despair free existence.  Perhaps being honest with oneself about the state of despair is the ultimate irony, as sometimes I do wonder if the religionists are wielding evolution's gift of self delusion to their advantage, by potentially living happier lives for the benefit of the human species and at the cost of all others.

Still, I believe conscious existence is the silver lining facet in an otherwise despair seeded world.  Sure, at any moment we can opt for ultimate silence, alas once invoked you will lose any chance at the rainbow glimmers that permit us to dance on the head of Despair.

Life is problems. Living is solving problems.  One of those problems is Despair.

(Endnote: I contemplated holding off posting this until Monday, to avoid adding a downer to the weekend, alas, better to present Despair on a Friday, methinks, if only because the glorious promise of a weekend has the best chance to confront such darkness)

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