Accepting the absurdity of everything around us is one step, a necessary experience: it should not become a dead end. It arouses a revolt that can become fruitful.

~ Albert Camus

One of my long themes is that people have a natural – and I believe unexamined – attraction to sustaining certain activities.

The CEO wants to keep his company from going bankrupt. The doctor wants to keep his patient from dying. The statesman wants to keep his polity from collapsing.

However, all companies go bankrupt. All patients die. All polities collapse.

Seeking to sustain these things as an end unto itself is absurd.

In contrast, I argue that life and everything in it is an extraction problem:

How can we take more?

How can we get more out of life?

How can we more fully seize the day?

Those three questions have different frames. The first greedy, the third idealistic. Yet, underneath it all is the same question. Time is short. Resources are limited.

How do we use the time we have, to make the resources we have, fit our vision of the best possible world?

We get wrapped up sometimes worrying whether we are signaling that our vision for the world is noble or that our vision is base. Are we doing it for the good of humanity or only for ourselves?

However, in all cases it is our vision. And, some of the worst atrocities in history were committed by people who at the time genuinely believed that they were making the world a better place.

Part of coming to the world honestly is to know that we are extracting. We are imposing. We are here to change what is into what we wish it to be. That’s the beginning and the end.

Then we can come back and more honestly ask, how do we extract in the best possible way. How do we do the best we can with what we have.

And, how would we know if we weren’t?

About these ads