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Death and Paris

Today in Paris (courtesy of the New York Times)
Today in Paris (courtesy of the New York Times)

I spent many years of my life fearing death.

It’s a weird way to be. I’d wake up in the morning and be depressed by my mortality. I’d stay up excessively late at night, trying to squeeze every last drop from conscious existence. I hated the inevitability of my demise; the thought that I would cease to be; that I would spend—literally—the remainder of eternity (a concept that doesn’t actually make sense) as nothingness. This would keep me up at night. I’d wake up, cold sweat, paralyzed by the knowledge that thought would not be thought; that breath would not be breath.

That I would die—and there was no way out of it.

Over the past few years, however, my thinking on this topic has changed drastically. Although I am in no rush to die (this is anything but a suicide letter, to be clear), I see the benefits of not being here. In short, we are more bad than good, and it’s becoming unbearable. I can’t stomach the way we destroy our planet, sans care. I can’t stomach the corporate greed; the indifference to suffering; the lengths some go to inflict emotional pain on others. I can’t stomach stupidity reigning; I can’t stomach people trusting ancient religious texts over logic and scientific fact; I can’t stomach evil men and women promoting evil thoughts to pliant minds.

And today, I can’t stomach Paris.

I’ve been alive for a lot of terrorism, and usually it brings me down. This, though, is taking me to a new place. As I read the New York Times and CNN, I don’t find myself merely depressed. No, I find myself resigned to human awfulness. We kill, and kill, and kill, and kill—and it will never stop. There’s no war on terrorism, because terrorism is not something that can be defeated. You wipe out a cell, three more emerge. You kill a leader, another leader steps in—and he’s even more powerful. We can send 5 million soldiers into the Middle East, and it will only serve to double, triple, quadruple the number of people wanting to slaughter Americans. There’s no logic here, and neither U.S. political party has a clue—or even a sliver of a clue—how to handle this. Why? Because there is no handling this. Terrorism will continue and continue and continue. Innocents will die; families will be torn apart; marriages will never occur; grandchildren will never be born.

So, yes, death appeals to me. Because while I still marvel at my children, and gasp at the sight of the Grand Canyon, and drool over the taste of fine ice cream, and laugh at funny jokes and pinch myself over my good fortune, those feelings are not enough.

Ultimately, the unending badness trumps the sparks of goodness.

Ultimately, I’ll want to leave it all behind.