The other week I read that Peter Thiel is leaving Facebook woops I mean Meta’s board, so he can reportedly “focus on supporting candidates running for office who align with the Trump agenda“. My immediate reaction was who does that, then I remembered it is not surprising at all because it is Peter Thiel.
But on a metaphysical/psychological level I cannot help but wonder, why? Why are there people who experience deep existential guilt if they are born with privilege and then there are people who would use everything in their privilege to make sure other people continue in their oppressed suffering? It is one thing to have harmful behaviour because one is socially unconscious and another thing to outright perpetuate harmful narratives that become actual laws.
I don’t really believe that people are born evil but I guess it is genetically possible that some people are unable to feel empathy. But feelings aside, isn’t it rational to think that the interconnected whole can only flourish if its parts can individually flourish? Isn’t it a bit primitive to believe that it is necessary to harm others so that they cannot harm you? Isn’t hoarding just an obvious sign of insecurity?
I think we would like to think as though homo sapiens (btw I just found out this is latin for ‘wise man’ lol) is one homogenous species, but the reality is that some of us are so different that it seems foolish to apply the same expectations to everybody under one label. I think this can cause a lot of grief because we think fairness and justice are inherent qualities of the human race. But fairness and justice are concepts that some human beings invented. It is invented in the hope that we will be fair and just, but there is nothing in the natural laws that says we must be fair and just. We could envision an alternate timeline where democracy didn’t take place where we’re still ruled by feudal lords or something, and that would not be unrealistic at all.
Some time ago someone posted on reddit that their pet birds were cruelly beheaded by a wild bird. My partner and I were horrified that such a cute little bird is capable of such violence. But there are millions of examples like this in nature. The only difference is that human beings are the only species capable of murdering ourselves in great numbers. And we have a developing brain that has the potential of transcending our instincts and analysing our own behaviour unlike most animals.
I guess if birds are diverse enough to have cute little brutal impaling butchers, then having people like Peter Thiel pop up amongst the diversity of homo sapiens is not that bewildering.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I used to find great comfort in that, but I no longer believe in it. I think justice is a commendable value that human beings want to behold. Sometimes when I become misanthropic I am reminded that we are a species who invented laws so we can aspire to be just. We didn’t have to, but we wish to. That is something that is precious, even if we’re just a tiny speck in the universe. We’re a tiny speck that has aspirations towards so-called higher values. Or at least some of us do.
These days news headlines have become as though we’re all living in a satirical movie. It is natural to feel despair. There is already great suffering and even more oncoming suffering, and then there are people like Peter Thiel who wants to make life more miserable for more people. But there are also people who devote their lives to the greater whole, like healthcare workers.
Personally, I don’t carry much hope for human beings, and who am I to hope anyway? I think there is a harsh fact of reality that is really difficult to accept but once having accepted it life may be less frustrating. That life is just full of things happening – good things, bad things, neutral things, mixed things – there is no guaranteed happy endings or natural arcs that bends towards goodness, these are just storylines invented and conditioned into our heads so we can bear our existences. Whatever happens there will be grief, illness, death. One day the sun will die, and at this rate maybe human civilisation will end way before that anyway.
What matters is the now. If life is going to suck anyway perhaps what we can hope for is just to find ways to live in a way that will make us look back with less regret. Everything may not matter in the end, but carrying psychological burdens is just not a pleasant way to live as long as we still have to be alive. The important thing to figure out as early as possible is whether the life we’re living is the life we truly want, versus a life society has conditioned us to want.
I used to be so upset at everything and judging from this post I guess I still am to an extent, but I would like to think I took a good look at this world and saw it for what it is, not what feel-good stories have taught me to believe. This world is just chaotic and always has been. I can take the chaos very personally or see it as it is doing its own thing. The reality that is occurring now are not just events happening in our generation but they are actually an outcome of everything that has happened since the beginning of time (as hungry cave people scarcity is drilled into us). Change is possible but it has to be expected with realistic lenses. To live fully we have to discern what we can effect, and what we can’t.