by Con Carlyon
I watched Piers Morgan interview an atheist during the week. Piers asked what the atheist thought happened when we die. The atheist asked Piers if he could remember what it was like before he was born. I think he was trying to convey that we could expect it to be the same when we die. I would have replied like that at one time. Now I would simply say that we have always been a part of the universe and always will be. So many seem to have difficulty coming to terms with Einstein’s words that I referred to last week. They are:
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest– a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
So much of our time on this Earth is spent in the business of human survival that we don’t find time to observe Life from any other standpoint. As I’ve often opined here, I firmly believe that we must step back and look at Life from the Cosmic Perspective in order to better focus on Life from the human perspective.
Yet we seldom see coverage in the media that deals with anything other than the raw material of survival on this Earth. Certainly not from the Murdoch media anyway, which seeks to dumb down the public discourse as a means of furthering the material interests of the rich and powerful. I do wonder how many of his friends really believe in the religions that their conservative foot soldiers preach to the masses. If they don’t, then I have to wonder what they do believe in. Is it only wealth and power? That seems to me to be a waste of a life.
I think the Einsteins and Carl Sagans of this world live a far more fulfilling life. They’ve looked out the window, fascinated with the view, and they speak of it in wonder. When have we ever heard the Murdochs of the planet speak in such terms? In my younger days, when I was in search of meaning, I remember reading Somerset Maugham’s book The Summing Up. I recall Maugham’s observation that he found conversation with businessmen difficult, as all they seemed to know about was making money.
I think this is probably true of most billionaires, but there are clearly exceptions: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and George Soros come to mind. These men have demonstrated by their philanthropy that they have values beyond crass materialism. Not so, Murdoch and counterparts. There’s no reference to humanitarianism in his Wiki entry. No, the hounding of the unfortunate is more typical of this man, along with his never-to-be-forgotten endorsement of the invasion of Iraq: “because we’ll get oil at $20 a barrel”. I do wonder how any man with even the smallest bit of conscience could utter such words, words that would result in the destruction of so many hundreds of thousands of lives. And when did any of these supposed men of God, who faithfully preach the materialistic gospel so beloved by and favorable to the wealthy, ever offer a word of criticism of such inhumanity? Yet they all walk with their heads held high, bearing no sense of shame. Such arrogance astounds me.
So that is why I need to seek refuge in the Cosmic Perspective from time to time. There, I can look at Life from Einstein’s perspective. There, I can commune with the universe. There, I can forget the actions of some of my fellow humans who disgrace the privilege of this Life. There, I can Live.