A question and a quote


First the question.

The nutritionist tells us to eat well and live long.

The doctor tells you to exercise and live long.

Your aunt and grandmother encourage you to get married to a good spouse and tell you that will guarantee you a long life.

Your pastor not only promises you a life here, but he promises you an eternity in the netherworld especially if you give him your money!

You find an old man who is toothless both literally and metaphorically still hanging on to life. He shoots pool with a rope but he still lives.

Many people are busy making children to succeed them.

Why are we obsessed with immortality, with being remembered by anonymous persons or rather why do we want to live long and for what? Nature takes many years to make a man and just when he is ready for life, it kills him.

And now the quote, from Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. It is from a letter Rank wrote in 1937;

Suddenly… while I was resting in bed it occurred to me what really was (or is) “Beyond Psychology.” You know what? Stupidity! All that complicated and elaborate explanation of human behaviour is nothing but an attempt to give a meaning to one of the most powerful motives of behaviour, namely stupidity! I began to think that it is even more powerful than badness, meanness- because many actions or reactions that appear mean are simply stupid and even calling them bad is a justification.

 

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

73 thoughts on “A question and a quote

  1. Tish Farrell says:

    Gosh, Noel. You do ask us BIG questions. While I think about this I am remembering a saying that does something like: ‘Don’t put down to malice, what you can attribute to incompetence.’ Which rather echoes your Denial of Death quote.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      I think I have that line and makes a lot of sense.
      I trust all of you to be serious thinkers and so I know there is a lot to learn from all of you.

      Like

  2. Wow. Great quote, and great question. You’ve a knack for stimulating great thoughts and great discussions, my friend. Why? Why do we want to be immortal? For me, the answer is simple: I do not want to die. I like “being.” I will end, and that sucks. It is rather stupid to think we’ll be around forever, because, like it or not, we won’t be. I can live with that. I must. It’s reality. Religion creates a fantasy for people that they will live forever if they just believe the right things and follow the right god. Those who question religion are a threat to the frail egos of those who pretend to believe. Deep down, we all know this is it. Living life waiting for the next is a waste of the life we has. Since this is all I have, I want to make the best of it and help ensure others can continue to make the best of theirs. Amen. Hallelujah. And praise be Yoda.

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    • makagutu says:

      I have trust that those who frequent this spot are not lazy thinkers and as such I am never disappointed.
      Do I want to be immortal? I don’t know though like you I don’t want to die, not just yet.
      Religion promises its adherents a life that transcends this one where the body decays whether it is in rebirth, nirvana or resurrection. It is still the same promise.
      To question and challenge religion is take the rug under some people’s feet. They no longer can see what life counts to. The fear of death becomes fully manifest.

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      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        Totally off-topic (surprise!):

        SIX-WORD STORIES
        Torched the haystack. Found the needle.

        Sorry soldier, shoes sold in pairs.

        “Male?” “It’s an older driver’s license.”

        Painfully, he changed “is” to “was.”

        Simulated beings realize they’re simulated.

        Strangers. Friends. Best friends. Lovers. Strangers.

        First sentient robot: “Turn me off.”

        Voyager still transmitted, Earth did not.

        The smallest coffins are the heaviest.

        My dads met at Bible Camp.

        Brought roses home. Keys didn’t fit.

        I’m beside myself; cloning machine works.

        She was lovely. Then things changed.

        Apathetic prophet makes a pathetic profit.

        She loved cigarettes more than life.

        I went traveling, found my home.

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      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        Mak, RE: “Do I want to be immortal?
        I wrote a story once, back when it was believed that a Universal “Big Crunch” was possible, about a guy who had discovered the secret to eternal life. In my story, he lived for billions of years, traveled in space, had adventures, watched the universal expansion grind to a halt, then begin to condense, and sat for more millions of years, watching the spot it had all disappeared into, waiting with anticipation, for it to happen all over again, this time with himself as a witness.

        He finally came to a depressing conclusion – the Big Bang would never occur again, as critical mass would never again be reached, because one bit of the necessary matter was missing – his. With a resigned sigh, he headed home.

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      • Right. Which is why we need to make the most of what we know we have: this life, right here, right now. How can I make THIS world more beautiful, and lasting and wondrous, for myself and future generations? What can I do to make this place matter? To me, this is it. It’s just as likely we never came to be as it is we did, and we may be gone tomorrow. We’ve no say so in the matter and the universe does not care one way or the other. When I see the homeless struggling to survive while right next to them stand churches, temples, and masques, taking up 1000’s of acres of space, tax free, I see waste, waste of energy, space, and “faith.” To put faith, energy, time, and untold billions into places to worship invisible guys so we don’t burn in a non-existent “after-life” while people, our human brothers and sisters, sleep under train tracks and go uncared for is a sin against our kind. It is a disrespect for the only thing that I would truly call precious and holy in this universe, ourselves.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. aguywithoutboxers says:

    A great Sunday morning mental exercise, my friend. Nutrition and fitness offer health benefits but why extend the length of life if the quality of life offers nothing in return? I hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

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  4. emmylgant says:

    Are we not the only living things conscious of their death?
    It’s not stupidity that keeps us alive ( although a case can be made for it)it’s denial of its futility. Otherwise we would have disappeared a long time ago.

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    • makagutu says:

      We could and we are the most unfortunate for that. Our animal destiny hangs above us every moment of our lives.
      A case can surely be made for stupidity.

      Like

  5. john zande says:

    “Nature takes many years to make a man and just when he is ready for life, it kills him.”

    Awesome line, brother!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Mak – we just get here, finally begin to get our shit together, and it’s time to go. It’s not fair, but no one said it would be.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mordanicus says:

    Eating well and exercising are the best advice to live long. But to the point, people have proposed so many mutually exclusive ideas about the after-life, it seems to be clear that we can’t know anything about the afterlife, if it exists in the first place.
    How do we know that the afterlife is not a crappy place to be (as is described in ancient Greek mythology)? My advice would be that people should live this life to the full, since we don’t know whether there is an afterlife and how life would be there. Hence it would be best to live if the were no afterlife.

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  8. themodernidiot says:

    Because we fear death

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    • makagutu says:

      Our death or is it the death of those around us?

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      • themodernidiot says:

        Our own. It is not easy to accept the death of others, but easier to reconcile than our own.

        We fear pain at death for one thing. But even if we could remove that aspect, we would still fear no longer living. We fail to live in mental state that imagines legacy in a different way. We seem to see ourselves as having to make some obvious, overt mark on our community (or even bigger). We cannot accept our own knowledge of our reality is enough. We have fallen under the fairy tale that our deeds, our name must succeed us for it to have meaning. We seem to forget that every molecule matters and we are just big molecules.

        Religion, as I suspect you are suggesting, has played a big part in taking us away from the truth of our real place in nature. With its talk of kings and heirs and afterlife it has filed people into ignoring nature’s cycles.

        It is so engrained, that even those invested in the science will fear death for not having left something behind, or just for not living any longer (which is just more time to make that mark).

        But I definitely think the pain part is a hard hump to get over lol

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        • makagutu says:

          I think many human endeavours have as their objective immortality, the scientist wants his innovation to outlive him, to be remembered. The main difference between non believers and believers is the realization that if anything is to matter, it is here where it matters.
          It is here that life must be lived fully, that we must place a mark.
          I have asked at some point if for life to be lived must have some meaning.
          Thanks for this very elaborate comment.

          Like

          • themodernidiot says:

            I’ve met a lot of believers that focus on mattering in the moment, and letting that build it’s own legacy. Believers from all faiths actually.

            In fact, I have met more people of faith, who have a better handle on their mortality than non-believers. Their faith offers them a peace of mind that enables them to focus on their here and now.

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          • makagutu says:

            No doubt about that. It would be fallacious to say what is true of an individual is true for the group and vice versa.

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          • themodernidiot says:

            It makes me curious though, what is the peace if mind for atheists? I can imagine, but perhaps you’d like to offer some things?

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          • makagutu says:

            Talking for myself, philosophy has done much in preparing me both for life and death. I have accepted my death as an eventuality I only wish I could be told in advance so I could see what to do with the remaining time. I hate that it comes often without notice.

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          • themodernidiot says:

            Do you think religion not used to control people becomes simply philosophy?

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          • makagutu says:

            I don’t think so. That would be stretching the meaning of the word.

            Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument

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          • themodernidiot says:

            Hmm yes. I see. Thank you 🙂

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          • makagutu says:

            You are most welcome and I must say again I appreciate the questions you ask very much!

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          • themodernidiot says:

            I appreciate that you help me find answers! I’d like to extend that to your readership as well. Thank you all for so much intelligent exploration!

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  9. “Why are we obsessed with immortality, with being remembered by anonymous persons or rather why do we want to live long and for what?”

    It’s a lot of things: fear, ego, narcissism, pride, a desire for achievement, a sense of self-worth, feelings of inferiority in a threatening world, the thirst for ultimate knowledge, attachment to kin, loyalty for adopted dogmas, perhaps much more.

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  10. Noel — I see us as no different than any other species with an instinct to survive, reproduce and hopefully thrive. But humans over-think things. Reality can traumatize. I think about the slaves throughout history who were brutally mistreated and who never had an opportunity to thrive. I can see why they would hope for an afterlife.
    I have no desire to be recognized by anonymous persons. As Jeff was mentioning, I hope to do my part as a citizen of this planet to help make this world a better place for future generation. But as far as death is concerned, I try to live everyday as though it were my last — and I do not fear death.
    I never had that kind of contentment as a believer when I actually did believe in immortality. Isn’t it ironic — the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) studies show that in terminal patients, the most religious tend to cling to life the most (ask for the most end-of-life care) in their last week, where as the least religious do not.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Eric Alagan says:

    I don’t plan to die as in “die” as I plan to live forever. When the priests finally arrive at the gates of hell – guess who’ll be waiting them 👿

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  12. Eric Alagan says:

    typo – “guess who’ll be waiting for them.”

    I was so excited at the prospect – I got carried away 🙂

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