Do you not think that Man is very brave? For we alone, of all creatures in our world, by the virtue of our reason, know that everything we build will one day become ruins. Yet build we still.
In the last weeks of 2011, I saw things that made me think on man’s mortality and decay. I met my great aunt, and it saddened me to see how this formidable woman suddenly became old and frail. I went home to see my parents, and as always happened every time I saw them, I rued the fact that they are getting older. Aging is a part of our human nature, people say. But why is that so? I can ‘understand’ the mortality (who would want to be tied to this world forever?), but why the aging, the decay?
Few times I heard an accusation from the agnostics / atheists that we, who believe in God or gods, only do so because we are not brave enough to sail on the sea of life without a false comfort. I often snorted arrogantly at that, as I think that it takes more (instead of less) courage to believe in God. For I do not, as far as I can remember, see God as a grant-giver machine, but as a master and lord. Not to be ordered around at our whim, but to be obeyed. How can people say it makes life easier to have a master? Yes, it may be easier to just do what you are told instead of taking the responsibility of making a decision. Yet this master is not that kind of master. This master, if I may say so, requires us to think independently more than a PhD supervisor requires. How does that make life easier? So I dismissed that accusation right away.
Yet as I pondered on men’s decay, I had to admit that I cling to my faith for comfort in this matter. No, I am not (yet) talking about the great story of Redemption. I am not talking about the seemingly too-good-too-be-true Good News. I am simply thinking about Creation. If there had been no Creator, what would have been the meaning of our toils? If there had been no meaning, no story, if a man had simply progressed from a babe, worked like a horse in his youth, decayed and wrinkled like dry leaves in his last days, only to vanish entirely, why should we live so seriously? I do not say why should we live, for simply being, simply living, I agree with Chesterton, is a privilege too great to miss. But why should we live so seriously? We should, instead, drink and be merry, and when the time comes, let us recite the Iliad and die. Why should we work so hard to succeed? (We should work to some extent, of course. To be able to drink and be merry, we need to buy the drinks first). Yet why should we bother to achieve something, to carve something, to leave our legacy? For every thing will come to ruin.