Imagine if after you died you had to stand in front of God and/or everyone who has ever died before you and explain why you were so indifferent to (or enthusiastic about) the suffering of your fellow man. Then, after you explained yourself you had to stand with your ancestors and listen to the apologies of everyone else who died after you. What excuses do you think we’d get most tired of hearing? And if we had to apologize for bullying, exploiting and manipulating each other as well, which excuses for those kinds of behaviors do you think we’d get tired of hearing the quickest?
Part of me wants to believe we live in a just universe and that there’s some kind of fairness in death, but it would be entirely fair to force us all to stand around and shake our heads at ourselves until the universe blinks out of existence. So as it stands, the theoretical, unprovable possibility that the universe is fair terrifies me, and even if there isn’t any kind of afterlife at all, the survival of humanity still depends on us not hurting each other. Either way, we should all be asking ourselves what went wrong? What’s going wrong? Why do we keep hurting each other?
If you want to understand why people hurt each other, you can start by listening to everyone’s excuses and looking for common denominators. If you do that, the first thing you’ll notice is that humans are experts at making excuses. Everyone who hurts anyone has a reason why they believe they’re doing the right thing, and human reasoning can get pretty elaborate, but no matter how solid our reasons sound to us or anyone else they always overlook one simple detail that negates the whole equation: the value of human life.
If we truly appreciated the value every human being brings to the universe, then we’d never hurt one. We’d go out of our way to make sure everybody had enough of everything without needing to be ordered or guilt tripped. We certainly wouldn’t hold other people down and take what little they’ve got.
Based on the evidence I see around me, I don’t think the disconnect between how valuable life is and how valuable we treat life comes from the fact that we’re too dumb to understand how valuable life is. Based on the evidence I see around me, I think we’re just too dumb to teach it to our children. In fact, we’ve been systematically indoctrinating children (the future hope of humanity) to believe in mythologies in which human sacrifices have to be made to atone for humanity’s innate despicableness. Of course people are going to act crazy when you give them that kind of moral compass.
You don’t need a book or a prophet to tell you how valuable life is. Just go spend a night camping on a safe beach far away from the city lights. Spend a few good hours staring at the stars and soaking up the enormity and beauty of the universe. You won’t find a catch phrase written in your native language up there that describes in bureaucratic detail why life is valuable and how it should be treated. You’ll just see the universe laid bare outside the warped lens of your ancestor’s culture.
As you’re staring up at the sky imagine floating in outer space among the stars looking back down at the earth. From that vantage point you can easily see that life is a treasure 14.6 billion years in the making, and it doesn’t matter which words you use to describe it. If you can simply look up and see the truth of that then how can go back to work and yell at another living, breathing human being about how the most important thing they can be doing with their life right now is turning in paper work and if they don’t turn it in on time they’re going to get in so much trouble it’s going to set back their entire future as punishment for being such a criminally substandard human being? How could you rob poor people? How could you inflate half-truths to justify going to war?
If you can’t see why it’s wrong to hurt other people then you’re not spending enough time looking at the stars. When you see other people being mean you can be certain they’re not evaluating the value of life from the cosmic perspective.