Weekend Reflection: When You’re Tired of Humans

To be fair, there are always a few humans out there who redeem the race and its history — perhaps upwards of two or three hundred of them living on the planet at any given time, to speak optimistically — but then, alas, there are the rest of the lot.

From the “leaders” on down (in exactly that configuration), humanity often seems a bust. No other species, for example, seems likely to have occasion to entertain such thoughts as, “Would a loving god make a world with X in it?” — where “X” equals one or another horror, inanity, or dreariness springing from the minds and actions of the species itself. For no other species acts contrary to its own natural good and interest with such tiresome predictability, or demonstrates so much inventiveness and industry in the cause of ruining its chances to achieve any measure of its telos. Meanwhile, whole human civilizations have worn themselves out on such unavoidable ruminations: religious traditions born, but then gradually questioned, degraded, and finally disintegrated in the inescapable and inexhaustible rush of unnatural (i.e., irrational) works and behaviors flowing from the souls of mankind, works and behaviors which inevitably and legitimately invite doubt — “Would a loving god make a world with this in it?”

The best we can offer by way of an answer to all the variations on this question — or the best answer anyone has come up with so far, at any rate — is reducible to this: “It’s a test.”

Hardly satisfying, although both the desperate and the hopelessly romantic among us (i.e., all of us, to one degree or another) have been making do with this answer, and trying to placate their dread of the abyss with it, for thousands of years. It would be so much easier, though, if we didn’t have so many examples of “X” cropping up all around every day, almost blinding us with a hail storm of waste, ugliness, and vulgarity, not to mention the indomitable “binary choice” of plutocracy and idiocracy that determines much of our practical fate, from the birth modern progressives long to abort, to the death the Platonists — defeatists of the noblest sort — equated with escaping from the body, i.e., from being human.

Between birth and death, we do have a few legitimate consolations. A handful of them even involve human beings — those two or three hundred noted above, for example. Much less complicated and much easier to locate, however, are the consolations of the non-human sort, those derived from the parts of the universe that, should they be granted the gift of articulate speech, would be very unlikely to have any need for such expressions as, “Would a loving god make a world with X in it?” — at least where “X” indicated anything stemming from their own activity.

Here, from my Sunday morning walk, are a few of those consolations. I hope you are indeed consoled by them — where by “consoled” I mean inspired to wonder, antithetically, “Could a world without a loving god produce this?”

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