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June 19, 2015

day 37


Knowledge tempers fear, and unknowables are terrifying.

You could make a case that all of medicine is just a specialized lab course, where humanity finds out how we are going to die.

Of course things get fixed in medicine: miraculous cures, heroic triumphs over all odds, exquisitely skillful surgeries – but while all of these extend the lives of the patients involved the baseline is that life is a terminal condition. “No one gets out alive” said the framer on a job site where I had just heard that my father had died.

So the acts of humans with no discernible purpose who not only end their own lives but in the process kill complete innocents is terrifying.

War is complete cultural, social and political madness: humans put every effort into killing other humans, knowing there’s a good chance they will end their lives and never benefit from whatever fruits of war happen. But there are perceived fruits: power, defeat of those who will oppress you if they get power, saving your people from death or slavery. 911 made sense in that mindset.

There are reasons.

But those who just happen to be flying on an airplane with Zaharie Ahmad Shah or, now, Andreas Lubitz or just going to the school Adam Lanza once attended end up dead without any plausible reason.

“He must have been crazy” is an explanation. It applies to me gardening a salt poisoned, shade bathed patch of rock too. It does not provide a reason for acts that are inexplicable that end innocence with death.

The idea that a singularity can eliminate a whole is the essence of anarchy. Humanity as a species uniquely relies on rules to survive and push forward. When those rules are distilled, refined and given full devotion, Mother Teresa happens. When there are no rules, nothing is valued, and life is purposeless, Shah, Lubitz and Lanza happen.

They are the single cancer cell that “happens” for reasons we begin to sometimes understand to a level where cancer has become more hated than feared.

But more often than we’d like our understanding does not prevent the same outcome as the victims of Shah, Lubitz or Lanza. Their actions have no registration with the most basic understanding we share: There should be rules we can understand.

That single cell often kills all the other cells that allowed it to exist, and then ultimately itself: to what end? Completely senseless.

Religion, law and science try to give a matrix of understanding to the senseless. But no level of faith in anything can make sense of the nonsensical.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Brian Milker permalink
    June 19, 2015 9:35 am

    I don’t mean to disagree with your premise, but this ‘deranged’ individual is not coming out of nowhere. He is a member of an established movement, one that has been around for more than 150 years, that while defeated in a civil war, wasn’t disbanded, and has a surprisingly strong influence over our supposedly ‘enlightened’ society. There is more I can say, but I will leave it at that.

  2. June 19, 2015 10:27 am

    I wish I had the confidence that had there been no Civil War, no slavery, there would not have been another “reason”

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