Ultimate Reality Check

French-Algerian writer, philosopher and 1957 Nobel Prize Laureate Albert Camus once suggested that the most important question philosophy had to answer is whether or not we should kill ourselves.

It’s a stupendous claim that’s easy to dismiss, especially without careful consideration.

It’s controversial. It’s spiritually and biologically blasphemous. It cuts to the metaphysical quick.

It’s such an abrupt statement that it seems like an attack; but it’s not. It’s simply the ultimate reality check.

In the grand scheme of things, we may be specks of dust gravitationally attached to a spinning pebble that’s flying through the universe at approximately 16,000 mph, surrounded by billions of other speeding, spinning pebbles powdered with trillions of other specks of space dust. Cosmically speaking, everything we do may be futile.

Making matters worse, our smallish, brief existences are regimented by petty, slavish vocational requirements, ludicrous societal expectations and frivolous material wants. Instead of living, we are preoccupied with “making” a living. Instead of making sure we have what we need, we obsess over getting what we want. Instead of being ourselves, we resign ourselves to being who we’re expected be.

Clearly, ours is what Socrates condemned as the unexamined life—and our political, religious and economic institutions are ill-fated, designed to ensure that things stay that way. Camus simply pointed out the obvious.

Much of our existence is absurd. Too much of it runs contrariwise to our own innate wisdom and natural integrity. We are asked to accept and resign ourselves to travesties and incongruities that every cell of our being cries out against, but we ignore our internal unrest and assume our ignorance is simply a fundamental step towards growing up, gaining maturity and mustering prudence. The utter inanity of our surrender is what makes things absurd, and this absurdity is what begs Camus’ heretical question. It doesn’t matter if we despise his claim or resent the resultant query. Once the proposition of life or death is boiled down to a simple value judgment, we are compelled weigh in.

Obviously, most of us weigh in affirmatively, quickly finding ways to justify our lives. Many rationales may be shallow or contrived, but they’re safe and sustainable and they allow us to function as conventionally productive individuals.

On an individual level, then, our answer to Camus’ question is a resounding “Yes.” Life is worth living. We teach it, we preach it and we cling to it. We live our lives as if there’s more to us than meets the eye, as if there’s a reason we’re here, as if we have something to contribute. We affirm our lives every day, from the minute we get out of bed to the moment we fall asleep.

Unfortunately, even as we individually clamor to proclaim that life is worth living, we collectively indicate the opposite.

Collectively, we live self-destructively as if life is not worth living, much less preserving. We poison and pollute our natural habitat for the sake of mass production and steeper profit margins. We squander our natural resources to maintain cultures of indulgence and material extravagance. We base our politics on greed and brutishness. We base our economics on carbon-based fuels and war-mongering. We mortgage our future well-being for instant gratifications, short-term gains and perpetual modes of entertainment, leisure and general escapism.

Surely, if we collectively believed life was worth living, we’d be interested in conserving and protecting our natural resources for future generations. Surely, if we collectively believed life was worth living, we wouldn’t allow our political representatives to obstruct progress on climate talks, emissions reductions and renewable energy. Surely, if we collectively believed life was worth living, we’d be more committed to getting to the bottom of extraordinary renditions, outed CIA agents, destroyed interrogation tapes, nonexistent WMDs, Abu Graib, Guantanamo, Blackwater, etc.

Surely, if we collectively believed life was worth living, the ruling economic elite wouldn’t be permitted to reduce the middle and lower classes to Capitalism-sanctioned wage slaves. Surely, if we collectively believed life was worth living, we wouldn’t have a healthcare system based on exclusion instead of inclusion. Surely, if we believed life was worth living, purchasing power wouldn’t be prized over conscience and the dollar wouldn’t be mightier than the pen. Surely, if we collectively believed life was worth living, we wouldn’t live as though we were specks of dust with no hope of making a difference.

Surely, if we believed life was worth living, we’d live more deliberately, more accountably, more responsibly.

Surely, if we believed life was worth living, we’d live a life more worthwhile instead of living so selfishly, cynically and fatalistically.

E.R. Bills is a writer from Aledo, Texas and the author of Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious (History Press, 2013). He can be reached at: erbillsthinks@gmail.com. Read other articles by E.R..

26 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Jeremy said on November 29th, 2008 at 9:54am #

    Wonderful article. I always like being reminded how much fluff is in my life. I often dream about living without computers or microwaves or ridiculous “laws” that are enforced by douchebags with guns, but then I’m sucked into the present and depression seeps in.

    Peace.

  2. Rita said on November 29th, 2008 at 10:39am #

    Nice article. The bigger picture does indeed need to be considered now–this is for certain.

    My feeling and experience leads me to believe that we need to radically re-envision what exactly it does mean to be human. As long as we allow ourselves to be undermined by limited belief systems and assumptions that we are ‘sinners’ by nature and cannot expect to really rise above our own , so-called flawed selves, we will never believe that we truly CAN change the human condition.

    I think the time is now or never to begin to challenge our innate assumptions. The dissonance needs to be bravely confronted and long cherished paradigms will need to crumble. If not, I don’t see much of a future for humans.

  3. Steve said on November 29th, 2008 at 11:48am #

    Excellent article. Living instead of making a living. Great idea…

  4. bozh said on November 29th, 2008 at 11:53am #

    in short, we r OK.
    however, all? churches, politicos, ‘educators’, ‘stars’ explicitly and tacitly say we r not OK. good piece by bills. thnx

  5. Mak said on November 29th, 2008 at 1:07pm #

    We spend far too much time worrying. This article is all about worry and concern. There appears to be much reason for worry yet in order to really live one must be “in the moment” which is now. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not here, this moment is the only one we have. Maybe more people are realizing this…….

  6. DavidG. said on November 29th, 2008 at 1:57pm #

    An examined life is a great objective. However that requires an ability to think.

    Humans, from birth, are taught to imitate, not to think. They are heavily indoctrinated with various ideologies: religious, political, racial, economic, etc, and rewarded when they copy, when they conform.

    At school they are taught to rote learn by teachers who have excelled at rote learning and what they are taught to rote learn is too often not the truth.

    By the time they reach twenty, most humans are incapable of thinking and are therefore easy prey for those who manipulate and exploit.

    It has always been so!

    Few escape.

  7. Don Hawkins said on November 29th, 2008 at 2:08pm #

    Last night on Larry King Live

    CHOPRA: In the meanwhile though, I think we have to seriously suffocate the financial pipeline that goes from Saudi Arabia to where we’re privy and part of through our oil addiction. We have to look at the weapons trade that we are part of, that supplies and sells weapons to every side of every conflict. So there are lots of issues here that have to be looked at. I think in the long term, there has to be a marshall plan that looks at the deeper causes of global instability, poverty, radicalism, lack of education.

    KING: Dr. Chopra, we’ll come back and have a much greater time with him as this unfolds. His new book by the way is “Jesus: The Story of Enlightenment.” Thanks for the time. We’ll be back. Don’t go away

    Let’s see if Chopra comes back on CNN.

  8. bozh said on November 29th, 2008 at 3:21pm #

    davidG,
    yes, advertising, much of the entertainment, formal schooling, all? religions, political talk, media writing miseducate. thnx

  9. giemmevi said on November 29th, 2008 at 3:45pm #

    Bills is absolutely right. Life is worth living, but collectively we act as if it was not.
    The problem though is not recognizing this matter of fact, for all of the readers of this article most probably have been aware of it (at least unconsciously). What we have to do, though, is to reflect about the causes of this collective attitude. I admit that I have spent too much time thinking about this problem and, logically, I was not able to come up with an answer.
    Therefore I decided, just like Bills and all of you out there, to address these issues, to discuss them, making and keeping them alive.

    Here is my modest contribution: http://changedirection.wordpress.com

  10. William R said on November 29th, 2008 at 6:03pm #

    The problem is that “we” doesn’t really work. Humans are social animals, but “we” were never meant to network efficiently on such a large scale (9 billion now?).
    You cannot ask for such a large group to operate with solidarity. The best thing “we” can hope for is that our population gets severely diminished to a level where a longer-term sustainable model can be applied to our resource handling practices.

    But assuming this will not be the case in our lifetimes, the best thing to do is just to work for our own happiness, and of course, the happiness of those connected to us, in the face of constantly impending disaster.

  11. Giorgio said on November 29th, 2008 at 7:29pm #

    Excellent article!
    But my personal answer to Camus’ question and in direct disagreement with the author, is a resounding “No.” The fact is that although we can engage in great flights of “heroism” decimating other human beings, we are cowardly and puny when inflicting it on ourselves. In sum, we have huge virile “balls” to do it to others but we’re pathetic wimps when pricked on a finger with a needle to draw our own blood!
    So “whether or not we should kill ourselves” is not so much a philosophical question as it is a question of GUTS!
    Maybe we should enlist some Cosmic Euthanaser to do it for us…the fact that we have some extremely religious groups in this world harping about an imminent Doomsday may have some thing to do with it, i.e. a subconscious, spineless Death Wish ! Our ever increasing refinement and sophistication at inflicting death on others may be, in Freudian psychoanalytical terms, a desperate crying out loud for help: “Don’t you see? We killing you ! So, please, kill us back, and save us from ourselves! ”

    Sometime ago I wrote a short essay which may help make my point clearer. Here it is:

    APOCALYPSE NOW

    On August 6, 2005, was the anniversary of the dropping of the Atom Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, sixty years ago. In a split second over one quarter million people were exterminated. Never before in the History of Mankind have so many people been killed within an eye’s blink. This still remains the Undisputed World Record, held by America, the world record buster par excellence.
    Adolph Hitler must have spun in his grave green with envy. It took him years and years to do away with six million, Gipsies, Jews, Poles, the retarded, the deformed, the incapacitated, and all those that did not conform to his ideal Aryan standard. How much more efficient would he have been if he had that gadget, he must have gritted his teeth with rage in that grave…
    But world records are here to be broken sooner or later. We see it regularly in the Olympics. Or, who hasn’t seen, for example, those pub beer contestants guzzling large volumes of beer in the shortest time? From guzzling beer in the shortest time to the largest number of people incinerated in virtual no time is a very short step in any one’s imagination, shorter even than the celebrated Neil Armstrong’s hop on the Moon. And let me assure you, dear God, there is no lack of imagination in this Bush Administration.
    A 60-year old world record has become rather stale. From the noises I hear from the media, I get the feeling that America is poised to break this staleness. Trigger-happy morons in the Administration are already looking around for possible candidates to strike at. Iran and North Korea are front line candidates. Oh, gee-whiz, I just heard on the news. Venezuela could be another! A Christian Coalition guru, an obviously brain-dead senior citizen, Pat Robertson, advocates that its Head of State, Hugo Chavez, should be murdered and save America over $200 billion in future war costs if it does act NOW. After all, is it not the new international diplomatic standard? Wanna get even with a Nation’s Head of State? Wipe out the whole Nation, pronto! Isn’t this what happened with Iraq? Once the precedent is established, thereafter it’s easy street.
    Nevertheless, I still place my bet on North Korea. It’s long been a pariah nation. It is densely populated and with the modern WMD technology that evolved since Hiroshima, one could easily see a new world record of 2 million plus people blotted out of existence in a blink of an eye. Such a record would hold for many decades to come.

    NOW, CONSIDER THIS:
    If a much smarter and far more advanced Civilization in Outer Space hears of this record breaking frenzy on Earth, they might decide to jump in the act. They, too, would love to be Tops of the Pops, the Number One on the Podium. As in the lyrics of that popular song, they would blurt out:

    Anything you can do, /we can do better. /We can do anything /better than you! /No, you can’t. /Yes, we can. No, you can’t.
    Anything you can be / we can be smarter./ No, you can’t./ yes, we can. No, you can’t.
    Anything you can be / we can be much greater./No, you can’t.
    Yes, we can. No, you can’t.
    Yes, we can.
    Yes, we can.
    Yes, we can !
    Oh, Yea? Wanna try, LOVE?
    Ok! You Dumb Asses, for the last few millennia, you have been ranting and harping over an imminent APOCALYPSE, so there you have it, NOW!
    So, one morning, on a crystal clear blue sky, at 11am, on ground zero in New York, a massive hit from Outer Space pierces deep down into the Earth’s womb and blows up this planet and its 7 billion people to smithereens. Thus, a NEW (not World, because there wasn’t a World to speak of, any longer) INTER-GALACTIC RECORD of instantaneous destruction is established.
    Sadly, there wasn’t even time to bundle and shove a Noah, his wife and ilk, into an Ark, a NASA Space Shuttle, and blast them off to another planet …
    Curiously, but not surprisingly, the other Planets, Stars, Galaxies out there in this Universe continued moving, circling, contracting and expanding in their own Merry and Happy way, completely oblivious to this Cosmic Non-Event.
    May be, God, in Your Infinite Wisdom and Goodness, You will decide to recreate another issue of Adam and Eve in some other corner of this Vast Cosmic Space. A greatly improved kind, I’m sure, for practice does make perfect. For that, moreover, You, dear God, will have all the time in the Universe to do it in. There won’t be any need to rush, like the first time round. A couple of days was too short a time to achieve Absolute Perfection. Even for a God!
    Take Your Time, dear Almighty, you have all the time, an Eternity, to do it all in….

  12. sk said on November 29th, 2008 at 10:00pm #

    Here’s a line from Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas on the perils of moralism:

    Be not too hasty to trust, or to admire, the teachers of morality: they discourse like angels, but they live like men.

    In that other modern racial settler state of the Mediterranean, French Algeria, our teacher of morality ‘”opposed extremism and violence on both sides” and “favored a multicultural Algeria.”‘, yet his ‘”multicultural” vision presupposed French rule over Algeria. “I believe in justice,” Camus said, “but I shall defend my mother above justice.” This meant seeking solutions well short of majority rule and self-determination for Algerian Muslims, including bizarre schemes evocative of later Afrikaner designs to retain power in South Africa.’

    Camus also “refused to speak out against the French terror in Algeria–a refusal that drew reproaches not only from the left but also from the Christian Democrat Francois Mauriac, the Gaullist Andre Malraux, the conservative Raymond Aron, and Camus’s allies in the CIA-financed Congress for Cultural Freedom, Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, and Stephen Spender.”

    Here’s an excerpt from a review of Camus’ biography done by the late John Hess:

    Intellectuals who along with Camus protested the crimes of Stalin appealed to him in vain to protest the crimes of France in Algeria. He did write to military judges several times asking clemency for condemned Algerians, Todd says, but became enraged when one such letter was made public. He expressed outrage at the Soviet assault on Budapest in 1956, but approved the French-British-Israeli assault on Egypt that year. He declined to speak out when Arab bodies turned up floating in the Seine, and protesters were crushed to death by a police charge in Paris. In fact, he broke a proclaimed withdrawal from political affairs to attend a dinner in support of Algérie Française, sitting at the head table with none other than Maurice Papon, then police prefect of Paris.

    For this and other reasons many people were upset when Camus was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in December, 1957. It was thought that his anti-Soviet stand was a factor (Boris Pasternak was the choice the following year). Be that as it may, the occasion was marked by a single terrible phrase. Challenged in Stockholm to explain why he protested repression in Eastern Europe but not in Algeria, he replied, “I believe in justice, but I will defend my mother before justice.”

    It was a reply that could have been made by an Afrikaner, a Bosnian, an Israeli, an Arab, a Hindu, a Moslem, a white supremacist, a hard liner on crime – anyone in the worldwide war against the Other. And it was, of course, pure folly. The danger to Camus’s mother arose from the refusal of the settlers to contemplate equal rights for Arabs. They wreaked havoc and brought down the Fourth republic, and destroyed any chance to live in peace in their beloved country.

  13. E. Bills said on November 30th, 2008 at 12:33am #

    what a steaming pile of horse manure. SK, please read other biogrphers of camus. camus was not known to protest the horrors of stalin. he just didn’t buy into communism like sartre (who seemed to believe the ends justified the means). he also was always the first to say that he was a writer and not a politician. the reason he was upset about the letter being published was he didn’t want to see it “exploited politically to add to the misfortune” of his country. And regarding his country, Algeria, he was obviously torn as anyone in his shoes would have been. Both sides wanted his blessing and neither reasonably or fairly so. conservative Frenchfolk felt he was in league with the Algerian rebels. Liberals felt he was was too conservative. he intervened where he could, but (I think) felt helpless, especially since neither side was inclined to be reasonable (as biographer H. Lottman notes, “intervening for Algerian Moslems accused of terrorism was complicated by the support given to these same defendants by what he considered to be a neo-Stalinist left). In Camus’ own words, “my role in Algeria never was and never will be to divide. . . I share the fate of all those, French or Arab, who suffer. . . But I can’t all by myself rebuild what so many men are trying to destroy. I shall try once more. . . to aid in the reconstruction of an Algeria delivered of all the hatreds and all the racisms. . .” Camus was also known to cite Richard Hilary’s remark before his death in WWII, that combatants on both sides are fighting a lie in the name of a half-truth. also, in point of fact, when camus received news of winning the Nobel Prize, the first thing he said was it should have gone to Malraux. and the prize was awarded to him according to the swedish academy because they believed he was the world’s foremost literary antagonist of totalitarianism–it was a position that would have been hard to refute, though his many enemies tried. SK–know that Camus was the only French journalist ever asked to leave Algeria for defending Muslims. also, if you going to use the quote about his mother, include some context. Camus always denounced terrorism and if Algerian rebels were going to exercise terrorism blindly and indiscrimately, then he would defend his mother over what terrorists considered to be justice.

    finally, regarding the Algerian question, camus said: When two of our brothers engage in a fight without mercy, it is criminal madness to incite one or the other. Between wisdom reduced to silence and madness which shouts itself hoarse, I prefer the virtues of silence.”

    SK–I encourage you to read the works of camus and do some further research. he was as imperfect as any of us, but your concept of him is sadly warped. in my view, he was genuine outsider and “other.” Hess had ulterior motives.

  14. DavidG. said on November 30th, 2008 at 12:52am #

    He was as imperfect as any of us! Boy, is that the understatement of the millenium, E Bills.

    The truth is that we humans are little better than primitive savages, ones with grossly inflated egos and little real intelligence. Look at our world. It condemns us.

    A fowl yard is more inspirational, more worthy!

  15. joed said on November 30th, 2008 at 6:44am #

    thanks for the fine article. if interested here is a link to a short article about the human condition you so adaquitly describe.
    http://www.carleton.ca/philosophy/cusjp/v20/n1/jun.html
    i find this article a true inspiration.

  16. bozh said on November 30th, 2008 at 7:19am #

    let’s not forget that france was as an evil empire as all others.
    it stole lands. thus, what any person said/did while living in algeria is of little or no import. let’s not personalize events.

  17. bozh said on November 30th, 2008 at 7:34am #

    ab humans being thieves, liars, deceivers, murderers, etc., question arises why the ruling class does not provide universities and fund research to find out if we always lied, robbed one another, deceived others, etc?
    plutocratic rulers and their subservient managers do not provide schooling w. relevant curricula, because study wld clearly show that it is “them” who first started lying, deceving, stealing, usurping, etcetc.
    such behavior is as old as the hills.
    and now is part of our genetic makeup? i hope not. i think people lie, etc., because they had/have/will have ‘good’ teachers.
    i still say, we r ok or that people can be ok. of course not, w. present plutocratic behavior. thnx

  18. joed said on November 30th, 2008 at 9:05am #

    http://www.carleton.ca/philosophy/cusjp/v20/n1/jun.html

    Throughout history, sadness has typically been regarded as an undesirable abnormality, the most severe cases of which can and should be counteracted through behavioural modification or medical treatment. Contemporary discussions of the neurochemical basis of emotion have reinforced this view by presenting sadness and depression as neurological flukes easily managed and cured through the use of serotonin-boosting anti-depressant medications. As a result, it is now commonly believed that one can overcome sorrow merely by taking a pill.
    Against this view, some philosophers have argued that sadness is neither a disease to be cured nor a passing emotional quirk but rather a fundamental and constitutive aspect of being. Miguel de Unamuno, for example, has suggested that sadness “is the path of consciousness, and by it living beings arrive at the possession of self-consciousness.” 1 For Unamuno and other existentialists, sadness is an innate condition which arises out of the conflict between human aspirations for order, meaning, and immortality and the reality of a meaningless, inconstant world. Seen in this way, sadness is not something to be overcome, but embraced with a kind of stoical resolve.
    Taking Unamuno as a point of departure, my aim in this paper is to defend a view which regards sadness as intimately related to the basic metaphysical condition of human beings. As I will argue, sadness is not chiefly a response to particular losses or failures. Rather, it is a deep-seated, numinous feeling shared universally by all human beings who continue to desire permanency in spite of the inevitability of loss.

  19. Ramsefall said on November 30th, 2008 at 9:18am #

    DavidG,

    I was relieved that you closed by saying that few escape, so as not to over-generalize. As a teacher, who went through the system realizing the basis of conformity in first grade, I make it a point to encourage my students to think critically and outside the appropriate confounds of acceptability. Their job is not to agree with what they are taught, but to analyze for themselves whether or not it adds up. While I don’t always agree with these young peoples’ perspectives, I continue to encourage their free thinking, and the dire necessity for more kindness in the world.

    Best to you.

  20. Ramsefall said on November 30th, 2008 at 9:26am #

    joed,

    your point stands on its own, as sadness like any other emotion has value. It is the sadness that wells up when we travel the world and witness the injustices thereof which keeps us connected to our species. It is sadness that reminds us we are human indeed when observing human suffering, and sadness may thus lead us to do something about it; response writing, protesting, volunteering, proposing change. It is sadness that prevents us from accepting the world as it is, and consequently emboldens us to move in a direction toward positive change. Sadness is underrated.

    Best to you.

  21. Ramsefall said on November 30th, 2008 at 9:43am #

    Mr. Bills,

    excellent reality check as originally proposed by Camus, a taboo subject on almost every level.

    While mankind is full of potential, we continue to fall far short of reaching it. How many more millennia do we need to reach our capacity? When will we learn to live in harmony with nature while becoming stewards of our home? When will we learn to stop killing for the wasted sake of killing and practice absolute kindness and love toward one another? When will humanity learn to unselfishly put others before themselves? Those are our shortcomings.

    Mr. Smith in Matrix may have summed it up most accurately when he identified our species not as a mammal, but as a virus that continues to spread and contaminate once we’ve squandered all the resources of a region. While that may be a bit extreme, it also reflects an inarguable truth.

    Our problem as a species is a lack of collective ascended consciousness which has been suppressed by our faulty belief systems that have remained quite static since before the days of Christ. How many people still believe in the traditional concept of heaven, hell and God as proposed by the church? Millions, billions? Ignorance breeds ignorance, and until our species learns to consistently think outside the box of conformity, and take others into consideration, that reality check which you propose again has merit.

    Thanks for the article.

    Best to you.

  22. joed said on November 30th, 2008 at 9:48am #

    hello Ramsefall,
    actually, the point being made about sadness is not mine but rather comes from the article by Nathan J. Jun;
    http://www.carleton.ca/philosophy/cusjp/v20/n1/jun.html
    what i entered here is but the introduction to Jun’s article.
    like Bills says, most folks CAN’T look at this without feeling threatened by the ideas. this “sadness” is quite like Camus “abserdity” of this human existance.
    peace to you and yours

  23. sk said on November 30th, 2008 at 9:49am #

    E. Bills,
    Even the staid Time Magazine described ringleaders of Algérie Française as “terrorists”. Here is an obituary published just last year of the same Maurice Papon–the highest-ranking French official to be convicted of “crimes against humanity”–who cordially broke bread with Camus. Nowadays, Camus serves as a moral guidepost to Israeli advocates of ethnic cleansing such as Benny Morris.

    Your slanders against motives of the late John Hess notwithstanding, he remains the finest guide to the “Paper of Record” that does much to sow confusion. Here is an amazon.com review of his memoir:

    With a diamond-hard honesty rare, if not unique, among today’s journalists, John L. Hess has written a memoir that deflates the gas-filled balloon that is the New York Times. A reporter and editor for the Times for 24 years, Hess shows how from the moment Adolph Ochs purchased the newspaper in 1896 it has cozied up to corrupt politicians and wealthy businessmen. In a blurb on the jacket, Kurt Vonnegut terms the newspaper a “mighty crowd-control engine,” and indeed Hess provides many examples of the Times leading the way in suppressing news and information that might educate the public as to how they are being bilked. No one could read this book and still think that the Times is a liberal, much less an honest, newspaper.

  24. HR said on November 30th, 2008 at 2:50pm #

    Just a question: where does the 16,000 mph figure come from? At the equator, the earth spins at about 1,000 mph. It orbits the sun at about 67,000 mph, and it (along with the rest of the solar system moves about the center of the galaxy at about 45,000 mph, from what I recollect. Kindly advise regarding your figures … it will make it easier to accept the rest of what you say.

  25. catherine said on November 30th, 2008 at 4:40pm #

    SK,

    God, I had no idea about Camus’s support of occupied Algeria. I think it’s perhaps best not to have heroes. Two of mine – Mark Twain and John Muir – I’ve recently discovered loathed Native Americans. Judas Priest!!

    I’ll look up Hess’s book, thanks.

  26. Brian Koontz said on December 1st, 2008 at 8:23am #

    “It is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven”.

    Americans helped to create hell on earth, and reigned over it. Not content merely with rulership, they created Hollywood to project to the world the imagery of America, a form of bragging, needling, and self-promotion.

    What the left asks for, pleads for, fights for, is heaven on earth. No war, no hunger, no disease.

    But as the mighty survey the hell they rule, surrounding themselves in a pleasure bubble so as to not see outside. they simply do not accept a heaven where they are merely one lifeform among many equal ones. Heaven is defined as a place where I rule, they say. So they aim to achieve their “heaven on earth”, and at the present time they have clearly achieved that. This achievement itself fuels their belief that they deserve to rule, thus making any change of course impossible.

    Which leads to the conclusion that only an outside force, destroying rulers and the structures which bring them to power, can destroy hell on earth.

    The definition of hell the powerful believe in is “a place where I have lost power”. They will do anything to avoid their “hell on earth”, including the use of nuclear weapons and the utter destruction of the environment.