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We’re all we’ve got

Everything is terrible. We don't have to be.

So everything is terrible right now. The world’s on fire, the country is being run by *phenomenally* stupid cryptofascists and the chances of us all dying from a vaccine-resistant strain of the ‘rona are only increasing because everyone seems determined to re-enact the very dumbest parts of the whole Spanish Flu fiasco of the last century.

A worrying number of my friends are actively flirting with suicide because the world’s various governments have failed to control a simple disease so very badly that any hope at all seems like an alien prospect to most of us. We’re all expendable for the sake of the Holy Economy, especially the children who are being forced back into crowded classrooms with no mitigation measures at all because the cocking ministers for education and health outright refuse to admit they were wrong about schools being safe for the last two years.

It’s very hard to have any hope in the face of this relentless creeping horror of indifference from the ruling classes. And it’s in that context I eventually wrote this. I was thinking about the altruism I had written into the weird hyperdimension fiction I’d written previously. I admit there’s a lot of influence here from a particular scene in All Star Superman where Lex Luthor, having taken a serum that gives him the same abilities as Superman, starts to realise how interconnected everything is and suddenly realises why Superman does what he does. It wears off, Luthor says “If it wasn’t for you I could have saved the world!”. Superman responds with “If it mattered to you, you could have saved the world years ago.” In the comic, Superman also beats him unconscious. But in the animation, Luthor falls to his knees, looking beaten and ashamed, and whispers “You’re right.”

Bill Arrowsmith: Lex Luthor's Existential Epiphany and the ...
He was so CLOSE, damn it!

Now, I don’t care at ALL for superheroes. I think they encourage people to assume that someone else can solve all the world’s problems. If Superman was inherently good, one of the first things he would do would be to destroy the American police system. But rich people who can destroy comic writers generally don’t like it when comics are TOO on the nose. But I’m rambling (and there are comics like Black Summer and Supergod that do some quite interesting work critiquing the whole superhero trope, you should give them a shot if you haven’t already). But that scene of Luthor having a sudden epiphany, that has stuck with me for years. Perhaps it’s because he’s not a superhero. He’s a selfish asshole no different from any other selfish asshole, who almost understood. The way his monologue was going, another hour or two and he might have even developed an actual conscience.

Now I’m definitely rambling.

So yeah. Fuck the cruel arbitrary nature of things and the wankers in charge, they’re dead inside and don’t have the imagination to imagine a better world. You wanna do something truly, meaningfully radical? Show some fuckin’ compassion.

This universe is vast beyond human comprehension. Chaotic, fickle, and uncaring. Every day entire galaxies are torn apart and swallowed whole, displays of cataclysmic violence that could kill a god, and yet space-time is so inconceivably huge such events are lost in the abyss, never to be witnessed by sentient life. The silent black is not peaceful; Do not mistake the darkness of the beast’s stomach for serenity.

We are more like this universe than we care to admit when we are born. We come into this world wild and blind and insensate, blank slates lacking in awareness, slaves to cause and effect. Composed of the very same little deterministic clouds of charge and probability. We have no more power over the universe than a mote of dust has over a planet. By any metric one can think of we should not exist. And indeed some day, as the stars fade and our works crumble, we may as well never have existed at all.

And yet… Here we are, right now. Little smudges of carbon and lipid and water, the ash of dead stars, by blind chance forced into iteration upon iteration to the point of becoming aware of ourselves and the processes shaping us. It is inevitable that life should come to exist, yes, but to endure? To become aware of the world, of other worlds? Can you understand how infinitesimally unlikely that is? That our world was not swallowed by some leviathan black hole, or all nascent life destroyed by an impact event or star’s death spasm fifty million years ago… My friend, we are a miracle.

That is why we fight. To defy the indifferent chaos of reality is the only logical decision. The only one with meaning. The only choice that separates us from the arbitrary cruelty and hurt. We are all of us tiny, insignificant tangles of self-aware space-time, yet we are the only part of the universe that can choose. The cruel, the indifferent, the evil, they choose the easy path. They let their choices be guided by the indifference of reality. They impose chaos and entropy on others to enrich themselves, and in doing so become hollow puppets, dancing to the tune of exploding stars and ravenous event horizon jaws. In choosing they give up everything that sets them apart from the cruelty of reality.

But we can choose another path. It is a difficult path, but in the end not nearly so difficult as that easy path of cruelty.

We may choose to build where the universe can only choose entropy. We can choose light over darkness, people and community over the crude mindless selfishness that masquerades as natural selection. We may imbue existence with value simply by existing. With simple compassion, we can defy entropy itself. And, perhaps ironically, we MUST do so. When the law of the universe is entropy, compassion becomes the only radical act, the only possible rebellion.

This universe is vast and indifferent, and within this infinity of destruction we have nothing, in the end, but each other. And Entropy cannot have us.

By Sarky

Freelance writing, communist propaganda, and only the very finest in depression-enhanced late night existential dread and self-deprecation.

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