© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Longevity and its loose logic
By Wale OLAJIDE.
WITH a more serious and stiff academic effort, I have argued publicly why it is not necessary at all to be born and why being born is always harmful. Besides I have also argued that being born is essentially first a selfish act of two consenting or non-consenting adults even when some cultures even as we speak continue to dress up procreation in metaphysical and religious garb either by claiming that children are gifts from God or gods or that no woman is actually born barren neither can she willingly opt to be one.
I have wondered how loving that God is who after creating human beings and finished serving them out as gifts then turns around without remorse and wipe off same with wars, genocide, hunger and starvation, sickness, tsunamis, mudslides and hurricanes. After all the belief is nothing happens unless God allows it. And when God is not busy doing it himself sometimes he simply watches as suicide bombers give a little helping hand reducing world population.
Being born at all is not only harmful it is essentially a disservice to the one that is born since he or she never asked to be born in the first place neither was he or she consulted or given a chance to at least register some intention or interest. To be born is to be forced into a world that is cruel and at the most wretched, time wasting, pointless and absurd. Who needs it?
The inevitability of death, its unpredictability regarding time or form and the brevity of living itself here on earth bring the absurdity of human enterprise and its tastelessness full circle. And if for some reason longevity is admirable and somehow catches your fancy, I wonder what fun or pleasure is there in living when the individual can no longer remember who he is, where he is, when last he had a meal, when he can no longer feed or clean himself, get up and walk around by himself and had to be put on the veranda to catch some sun as grumbling attendants clean up his room to get rid of the odour of a life slipping away.
There is, of course, the real and present danger of overpopulation, hunger and migration as a result of reckless procreation. The latter has suddenly become bolder and urgently daring, affecting relations among world nations and tipping the balance on what it actually means to be a citizen and if the resources benefits and freedoms available in any one location should be restricted for the use of only those born in that location. International policies on border security have become central to government legitimacy affecting elections and thickening the plot of political partisanship.
While all these are grave issues of human existence and why the plea is that they be urgently tackled if man’s brief stay in the world must have any meaning whatsoever, my concern is about the waste that characterizes human existence itself and why it is neither necessary nor significant to be born.
The two insights are underscored essentially by the socio-cultural existential graph that defines human existence. The cultural emphasis merely defines the significance accorded human life which this author limits strictly to whatever contribution makes the unwarranted survival struggle which is called living somewhat bearable before death. Scholars will, in fact, argue that whatever defines human enterprise when critically appraised is biologically frivolous and therefore pointless and meaningless.
It is grossly misleading, for example, to assert and affirm that life is beautiful while putting a man in the loop and using his endeavours as a gauge. Life simply put is neither beautiful nor ugly, it is simply what it is, life; the enabling element that informs whatever it touches with the pulsating beat of aliveness. What would be correct and justified to qualify with whatever descriptive adjective (beautiful, ugly, fair, wonderful, miserable, sinful) would be is the processes that life informs and makes possible.
Only human life, plant life, animal life as processes can be described and qualified with any adjective. Life itself is neutrally bereft of all and any judgment. In other words, only the living can be appraised and its varied dispositions adjudge as either beautiful or ugly. Life remains untouched. Live with it and by its grace, exit from it as a result of old age or whatever other means suicide inclusive, life is untouched, unmoved, impartial and oblivious of the subject’s plight. Nothing in this participatory existential mode which characterises as living in the world has any intrusive value. All ultimately is insignificant and useless. To be born, to be alive is therefore superfluous.
That cultures since their evolutionary debut have in specific ways confer some meaning and values on the way the people carry on daily is emphatically a determined refutation of their essence as nothing but finite beings and ultimate food for worms. Human life is not only short, it is brief and whatever man has designed to occupy himself with are silly attempts to deny the vicious, deft irreverent blow of death. This self-consciousness makes laughable than the attempt by some religion to paint God as doing man a favour by creating him and giving out babies as gifts. What kind of deity would create such a complex organism only to end up as food for worms? Perhaps a cynical one who uses man’s torments for his own amusement.
Convinced of his own triviality and insignificance you would rather that man will seek early suicide. But no. Such reasoned possibility is ignored and in its place, a yes to faith is chosen with a promise of eternal life. The self-consciousness of human life’s ultimate futility and its vanity nonetheless continues to serve as an indelible backdrop against which man with mindless lunacy erects his heroic games and craze for perpetuity as no one is however deceived but man himself
Here then is the raw deal. Man procreates and so much joy attends. The existential graph is displayed with an upward movement and landmark celebrations of firsts. First tooth, first babble, first step. Up still goes the graph. The first day at school, first certificate, first degree and another and another and yet another. Then marriage, a replication of self by procreation, occupation, acquisition of comfort, promotions, awards and applauds.
Age is on the ride as youthful vitality shifts for aching bones and failing health. Suddenly the subject gets to the summit; careers are attained and fulfilled. No more wars to fight no more land to conquer, no more rivers to cross, suddenly children have become parents, grandchildren now run around in excited noise crashing into furniture. Then you would rather two miles rather than four, because beyond that, you just might fall. Never mind that you used to do six miles some years back. Then comes frequent or yearly visits to the hospital for routine checkups diet regulation, loss of memory, loss of appetite and the desire for sex. Opps! He no longer can recall his name or who exactly is the woman bringing him food. Helping hands are needed to get to the bathroom, take a shower, dress and clean up. Suddenly the bell tolls as he lies in bed. He was eighty-five. Eighty-five on a journey to where?
Some have said that man should carry on and like the Ostrich bury his head in the sand. If he sees nothing then nothing exists either as fear or fate. Has it not been said in fact then that childlike foolishness is indeed the calling of mature men. That definitively is man’s fate living in a world that takes absolutely no notice of him because rightly so, he is just an insignificant speck of dust.
The author, Wale Olajide, is a professor and the head of the Philosophy Department, Ekiti State University Ado-Ekiti.