Life and Death

We’re all on an immense cruise liner, sailing for …. well, we don’t really know where.  The boat is so huge there are parts of it we’ve never been to, and never will.

Whole sections, whole decks even, are filled with people who speak different languages than we do, and have different, strange ways.

Most everything we seem to need can be found somewhere on this ship, if we are persistent and look hard enough.

Some of us have it easy; we have maids and cooks and delicious meals every day, and all the alcohol and other recreational drugs we care to consume.  Others struggle to stay fed, eating the more palatable parts of our refuse.

Our goal is to lead a long, happy life, gradually wearing out surrounded by friends and family.  But for all too many, the end comes disturbingly soon.  A staircase collapses, killing several young folk in their prime.

An apparently healthy man or woman wastes away and dies of some unknown malady.  A young father, or a widow, or an lonely teenager goes insane, and jumps from the decks into the waters far, far below.

Storms come and go, followed by calm seas which bring their own touch of death.  Heat and humidity envelope the ship; food rots and vermin multiply; strange, horrific diseases spread with a vengeance among us; yet through it all we survive and prosper.

After all, we are the fortunate ones.  We live up top, on the higher decks, where the air is pure, and the sunshine beams upon us, giving us strength.

I once ventured to the lower decks.  They were dank, dark, unhealthy, filled with savage people living short, brutal lives.  But it is only through their sacrifices that the ship continues to sail.  Who maintains the massive engines?  Who feeds the boilers, (with what?), burning up the fuel to create the energy that keeps us in motion?

One night, drinking with my friends, watching as some young ladies brought up from below danced for our pleasure, I mentioned this to them.  I said I wondered who keeps this ship going?  Who prepares the food?  Where do all those unfortunates living below us come from anyway?

They laughed at me, said I was drunk, told me not to be such a sentimental fool.  Culture has always ridden on someone’s back, they told me.  If you are born into a lucky lot in life, then don’t feel guilty.  Enjoy your good fortune!

Is that the purpose of this trip, to eat and drink well, enjoying the decadent pleasures gotten through another’s hardship?

I’ve been on this ship so long I have no memory of any other life.  Was I born here?  Will I die here?  If I do, will I be remembered?  Will I have added anything of value to our journey?

Does our journey even have a purpose?

I noticed how the strong terrorize the weak, and then use their labor for their own gain.  I’ve heard their speeches promising “progress”, read their treatises justifying their plunder as the “natural order of a well run ship”, even studied their meta-physicians who explain the inevitability of this “reality”.

I am not convinced.

Lately a disturbing thought has come into my mind.  What if those who jump are not doing so out of desperation, but rather in an attempt to find freedom?  Freedom from the layers and layers and layers of rules and regulations by which the social order of the ship is maintained, and the very few enjoy the majority of the material bounty here on board.

What really lies beneath the surface of the water?  If we could survive such a fall, would we find a paradise there?

I’m not ready yet; I still cling to my creature comforts, and I still luxuriate in the leisure bought at other’s expense.  But someday, someday, I will shake free from these chains of hedonism, give up the pursuit of pleasure as my purpose in life, walk to the edge of the deck, climb over the railings, and let myself fly through the air to the mysteries beneath the surface of the waters that lie far, far below us.


Originally posted by us on FullofKnowledge.