This is Your Place in the Universe: The Tiniest of Kings and Queens


Source: NASA

Source: NASA

It’s popular on social media, notably Twitter and Facebook, to post videos that show how infinitesimally small the earth is when compared to objects inside our universe. They then draw some conclusion of, “See how insignificant we are?” or “So when your problems seem overwhelming, just look at how big the universe is and realize how small your problems are.” Such messages, I guess, are suppose to be inspiring, but ultimately they’re quite nihilistic. It’s like one of those Lisa Frank paintings with nihilistic messages:

tumblr_nuceptJzuw1uegvy1o1_1280

It looks kind, cuddly, and just pukes sentimentality, but the message is pretty dark. And that’s how these videos on the universe are; yes, we’re small, we’re tiny compared to other physical objects in the universe, but does that really mean our problems are insignificant? Just say, “Cry into the night sky, but understand that your sound goes into a void that will not answer back and will not hear you.” It’s atheistic existentialism without the acknowledgement of angst or absurdity, it’s optimistic nihilism, which is to say it’s neither optimistic nor nihilist, but just a logical contradiction.

How non sequitur is it to say, “But the universe is vast and large and we are insignificant” when someone comes to you with a problem? More importantly, why would the size of the earth play into our significance? While the magnitude of a problem experiences some subjectivity – to a three year old, dropping an ice cream cone is an act of supreme evil – it doesn’t mean our problems or even our lives are insignificant. We can’t look at the crisis in the Middle East, the number of orphans, widows, and rampant genocide, we can’t look at the rapes, the theft, the wanton loss of life and go, “Yeah, but VY Canis Majoris is 5,000 light years from earth and dwarfs our own sun! So really, how big can our problems be?” That response is properly received as cold and callous, and that’s because it is, because human lives are significant regardless of their size.

See, while VY Canis Majoris might dwarf our sun, or while the whole of North America might look like a smudge when compared to the size of Jupiter, human lives dwarf absolutely everything else in this universe, including the universe itself. We are the kings and queens of creation, placed as stewards over all that we observe, even if what we observe is bigger than ourselves. Much to the chagrin of atheists or the non-religious, though evolved we are still made in the image of God. And since God is infinite, within that image there is infinity, and infinity shall always remain greater than the finite. And the universe, no matter how vast it is, is still finite. The problems we face, the evil we cause, the good we enjoy, the love we create, and every aspect of our existential lives are not insignificant or small just because the universe is large; these elements echo in eternity and will surpass even the universe itself.

And for those who aren’t religious or are atheists and prefer not to believe that we are in God’s image, I can respect that, but I can’t respect the devaluation of human life. For even the atheist existentialists would embrace the absurdity of treating human life with dignity because, after all, it’s the only intelligent form of life of which we know As small as we are, our intelligence makes us of far greater value than some distant star of mass quantities.

So yes, in terms of physical limitations humans are insignificant. We’re nothing compared to other animals on this planet, if we’re only looking to physicality. But if we’re looking to more, if we’re looking to the intangible, immaterial aspect of our existence (for love, knowledge, and the like cannot be measured and though immaterial, are a vital part of our existence and are what makes us human), then nothing in the observable universe comes close to our own significance.

 

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Within the Pangs of a Dying World or, The Hope of Sabbath


DSC01993St. Augustine’s City of God stands as a centerpiece within the annals of Western Christianity. One can easily say that within City of God Christianity officially moved West and became a type of its own brand, away from the prolific East (I leave it up to the reader to decide whether that is a good or bad thing). What is often ignored in the many debates caused by Augustine’s is the backdrop to why he wrote the book. The Visigoths sacked Rome in 410 – a relatively tame sacking comparatively speaking – causing panic and uproar within the Roman Empire. It would be akin to a foreign army of untrained soldiers attacking New York City after defeating the US military to get there; the shock would be beyond belief. Augustine was writing to the suffering inflicted, but to promise them that though violence may reign now, peace holds eternity (hence his title, “City of God”).

As I type this, millions of people around the world are suffering. One of the greatest realities of suffering, and possibly its saddest, is that the majority of these people are children. An estimated 1-3 million children worldwide die from malnutrition and starvation every single year, and that number is actually down from just a few decades ago. Of course, much of the malnutrition and disease is a side effect of manmade wars. In Syria alone, millions of people are displaced, and this is not to mention the ongoings in Iraq. In this violent upheaval families are displaced, they mourn the loss of those closest to them, the most unfortunate being the lone survivors of a narrow escape, the ones who live with survivor’s guilt.

Of course, I speak of survivors as though one can survive violence; the thing about violence is that what it cannot extract from the body it will most certainly rob from the soul. We think of soldiers coming back from a war with a “thousand yard stare.” Even soldiers in the most justified of wars are still casualties of that war in a way, having seen things no one ought to see. We don’t even need to go to foreign lands to see the impact of violence and PTSD; occupying the headlines are tales of various NFL players abusing loved ones (and sometimes loved ones defending the abuse), of college campuses having to define rape – a violent act – because apparently somehow rape is ambiguous. That we even have to define that “no means no” (contra Rush Limbaugh) shows that we live in a violent culture, even if we have to hide our violence behind sexuality.

The Western world feels like something is underfoot, that we’re on the verge of collapse. It’s as though we’re simply awaiting the Visigoths to arrive and send our world into a tailspin, as the modern day barbarians of al-Qaeda and ISIL have already done in the Middle East. With the events in the Middle East quickly getting out of hand, Russia’s not-so-secret invasion of the Ukraine (as well as flying its bombers near Swedish and US airspace), the fact that South America has quietly become the most violent region in the world, sub-Saharan Africa on the brink of another genocide, and the seemingly weakening social structure of Europe, it is a wonder that more people have yet to embrace nihilism. Considering the status of the United States is only worse as its infrastructure is falling apart, its middle class might go extinct long before the polar bear, its police are becoming more and more violent against citizens (all while most citizens capitulate out of necessity), and “Land of the Free” is used more for irony than patriotic statements.  Continue reading

In the Wake of Love, Hopelessness Disappears


IMG_0813The vast rat race of modern life

Have we all bought into the lie

Money makes you happy, so find success

Acquire all the money you want, then die

 

Death is the great equalizer of us all

Something that transcends race and class

We cannot escape its omnipresent grasp

We cannot overcome, nor can we surpass

 

What then do we live for

Why continue if the edge is our end

What is the glory of wealth

If hope it cannot land

 

And what of happiness on a September day

If tomorrow it shall rain

Life is more than the moment

For it all culminates to be vain

 

Do we pass on forever in our children

But they too succumb to eternal rest

Our children’s children will one day cease

The hope of life a cruel jest

 

And of the bond between lovers

A tale more fiction than fact

For all lovers end through choice or death

If two become one eventually one will subtract

 

Live for the moment I hear you say

But what of when the moment passes

In the quiet dark when reality appears

When the fear of our end amasses

 

Or do you ignore such questions

Do you push forward deaf to silence

Are you a mindless animal

To reason you must recompense

 

To ask these questions I ask

To face the world with fear

Not about survival, but about life

This differentiates us from animals, it’s clear

 

O stupefied and simple man

How easily you are led astray

Distracted by things of decay and rust

You ignore the night and no longer appreciate the day

 

We fill ourselves with drugs

To push away well-founded anxiety

For what are we in a sea of atoms

What more are we if not concentrated energy

 

What does it matter if I die today

What is gained if death awaits ’till tomorrow

I am but one life in an existence of billions

In my death or yours the universe does not sorrow

 

But what of beauty in this world

Of sunsets, lovers, and manmade art

Surely this is what we live for

This is found at the center of the heart

 

To this I emphatically say no

For what is beautiful shall not persist

The young vixen, the Rembrandt, the cathedral

All will fail and nothing now shall subsist

 

What of the form of beauty

Is this not eternal, for what we strive

What worth of an empty, mindless form

Why, for this, should I survive

 

Why, then, do we continue to avoid death

This all-too-natural unnatural reality

For what purpose do we live

Lest all actions be mere vanity

 

Perhaps we continue on in the name of love

Not mere romance, but something grander

But should the universe collapse on itself

Would not also love capitulate and surrender

 

Or is love beyond the realm of the seen

Could it be that love is the true reality

All now merely shadows, a simulacrum

And love directs us toward an eternity

 

If what we see is all we have

Then there is no point to this life

But if there is more, an unseen extravagance

Perhaps there is meaning to this strife

 

This love cannot be a mindless force

For then it could not be love, no intention

It must be intelligible and full of vivacity

Yet so vast a mystery, one without definition

 

This love must be our object of desire

Our Penelope on the odyssey of being

To run from this love the beginning of misery

Avoiding a contentment that sex and money cannot bring

 

We shall die and decay, but love live on

This love will rescue us from the grave

It will descend to any depths

For there is no soul it will not save

 

Our moments suddenly matter enveloped in love

For they shall continue forever and ever

Love will keep us and protect us

And seek us, to the end’s, wherever

 

Though my soul shall crumble to the abyss

And life collapse and tumble down the slope

I shall no more fear the darkness

In the arms of love I find hope

 

To the abyss love will find me

Love will break open the gates of death

The end of all shall be reversed

As love breathes a life-giving breath

 

Let meaninglessness win the day now

But let not death control history

There is more to life than our senses

Let love reign today, for love has eternal victory

The Return Home: A Short Story


Source: NASA

He looked out the canopy of his ship, into the vast expanse before him. A trained soldier, engineered to serve the greater good, he reflected upon his mission. He saw the twinkling of billions upon billions of stars before him, knowing one of them harbored a planet for his people.

“Our planet is dying.” he remembered her saying.

“Aren’t we all dying?” he responded.

She smiled and kissed his hand. She had a way of pulling him away from his gloomy visions.

“We’re all living. Help us continue to do so.” she finally said.

He thought back to the green sunrise he experienced earlier in the year. Their star rising above the horizon, illuminating the lush jungle canopy. In the distance the mountain smoked, threatening more and more to erupt. And then it did. The destruction it wrought was enough to bury the village and cover the distant city of Capeton with soot, providing further proof that the planet was slowly decaying.

In all their years of space exploration, they had harvested planets, never intending to colonize any of them. At first, their laws forbid colonization, as it would inherently impact the ecosystem of any planet they encountered. Then they allowed exploration and the commodification of entire planets. Colonization was forbidden not because it would destroy a planet, but because it would prevent its exploitation. Man’s appetite was insatiable. The sweet irony was that they now needed a habitable planet to escape theirs, and they could not find one.

He was selected along with twenty other soldiers to head out into the darkness of the beyond, to find a planet and return with hope. They endured training, genetic engineering, biological implants, and years away from loved ones. His mission was to head to sector 4591, send out probes, and hope for the best.

He pressed his display and saw a holovid of her pop up, smiling and blowing him a kiss. Tears formed in the corners of his eyes and a lump developed in his throat. He thought of how he missed her and how he might never see her. Six years he’d been on this mission, and in six years the probes had found nothing.

He quietly ate his meal, allowing the hum of the ship to be the only noise made. He had long given up trying to listen to music, as it meant nothing to him any more. He wondered what she endured, if she was afraid, if she cursed him for not being there to protect her. His thoughts began to consume him and forced him to become angry at his situation. He threw his plate at the wall, the leftovers splattering over the ground.

How could he have known his second mission? How could he have known the truth, a truth hidden from everyone? He walked his way to the airlock again, contemplating forcing himself out into space. The death would be painful, but it would be quick. The thought of her somehow knowing, of her looking on at his suicide prevented him from opening the airlock.

He walked past the cryo-tubes, the cold and bitter reminders of what once was. Hundreds of embryos in suspended animation, prepared to develop in artificial wombs and eventually birthed into a new world. Representatives of a society long forgotten. How he hated these tubes, these mockeries of his life. These reminders of just how alone he truly was.

He slipped into bed. He watched the video of his wife once again, crying as he attempted to touch her image, his hand moving through it. He then switched videos, to the last transmission he received 5 months ago. Continue reading

For the Simple Life


IMG_0248The world is a thing of beauty

A big ball of blue in a vast sea of black

And on this ball we live

O how we live!

 

I watch the children play in the garden

Creating worlds ex nihilo

From nothing they craft a great adventure

The world their canvas

Their minds their brush

Too young to face corruption

To have lost the ideal

Still enough belief in reality

To believe dragons still roam the earth

 

We are destroying this world

With our regressive progress

“Science will save us!”

O the blind optimism of ignorant fools

“Science has damned us!” I yell

But I am the madman

And retreat back to the mountain top

 

In my solitude I find that beauty

Away from all of you

 

Sex, glory, power: The unholy trinity

We’ve sold beauty in all things

To obtain these trifles of vanity

We want sex without love

Glory without dignity

Power without self-control

A living without a life

We want, we want, we want!

But we will not give

 

Observe the clouds

O modern

They form and collapse

And give no worry

They birds sing and live

But we remain silent

 

In this silence let us find ourselves

Let us return to Reality

in earnest meditation

Clear our minds of our own pollution

Find beauty, and just live

Against the Entropic Hope


IMG_0954Look at the glow of their faces,

glued to their phones and computers

They do not even see their hopelessness,

no questions asked, marching to their futures

 

What has become of my generation?

We are lost in our quest for money

Promised the world but too afraid to take it

We will not cross to the land of milk and honey

 

Work! Obey your masters! Slave away!

Toss aside your dreams and questions

of existence and meaning, they bring no profit

Hide behind technology, retreat to your bastions

 

O life how we have failed you

Not to conquer you, but embrace you like a lover

An invitation to reality you sent us

But we’ve chosen to run into the arms of another

 

Was it the shooting in the mountains?

Was it the crashing of a plane into our prosperity?

Was it the collapse of a broken system?

Was it the lack of our leaders’ transparency?

 

What caused us to lose our courage to live?

Have we surrendered to the commodification of our essence?

Did we even know to put up a fight?

Surrounded by stuff we feel a distinct lack of presence

 

How I wish we could live once again

and pursue life as a lover and friend

To see life with our eyes and not a lens

To truly live before our inevitable end

 

We are broken children from broken homes

Estranged from ourselves with no known identity

“Who am I” is a scary question to ask

A hazy people so desperately seeking clarity

 

Love is what we want, to find meaning

But ignorance of love is our curse

Lost to us like Atlantis, a myth never known

Condemned to live an undefined life, so terse

 

Beautifully ignorant of what it is we hunger for

We stumble through life drunk on entropic hope

A hope that will never pass or come to be

It is a reality with which we cannot cope

 

I see not a sunrise, but a sunset

Tomorrow will be tomorrow, no better or worse

I will face it and hopefully survive

If necessary, I will drink and curse

 

But life still continues to thrive around us

It is still waiting for us to partake

in all that it has to offer

For us to go out and make

 

Embrace life you ignorant fools!

For what will we do otherwise?

I turn from this apathetic generation

I take life and mundane death I despise

 

I look for hope and I find none

And now I am forever undone

And now I am forever undone

The Teacher


Truth is a Man

Here is another sneak peak from the book The Diary of a Despairing . . . I Mean Aspiring Author I am currently writing.  You can find the first two installments here and here.  Please keep in mind that this is only the first draft.


The Teacher

Growing up in a devout Christian family I heard the stories of the great biblical heroes numerous times and could recite most of them by heart.  It wasn’t until I was twelve, however, that I dedicated time to personally studying Sacred Scripture.  Naturally, I was immediately drawn to the more exotic, and often overlooked, books; the “black sheep” of the canon.  The first to grab my attention was Ecclesiastes, in which, to my great dismay, I read the following passage for the first time:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”

says the Teacher.

“Utterly meaningless!

Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their…

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