Thursday, January 10, 2008

Signs of strange and bizarre times

I really hoped this was just a bad joke but it may be signs of something far worse.

Saying that we are living in dangerous and difficult times is an understatement that defies description. Things are so strange that I have heard some on both the liberal and conservative sides of American politics wish longingly for the bi-polar world of the Cold War. At least then for the United States the enemy we faced was simple and clear with far fewer other wolves at the door than we seem to be facing now. Thirty years ago the worst thing we lived under was the threat of Mutual Assured Destruction from a nuclear war with the Soviet Union but few if any worried about global warming, mass extinctions, pandemics, nuclear or biological terrorism, or any number or other near doomsday scenarios. Adding to this list of ever present worries we face now are concerns about the educational system and if our kids are keeping up, whether our jobs will be outsourced overseas, will we be able to retire, or will we fall victim to disease and illness and become burdens to our children struggling to survive themselves. Given all stresses its little wonder why some need medication to face life. But I was surprised to find that some are openly wondering if it was best that not only if they didn’t exist but that it would be better if the human race went extinct to solve issues involving population. While I had heard of similar concepts in science fiction, namely Nature’s End, I had always relegated such an idea to the more distant improbable concepts explored in science fiction.

I have yet to receive the book but the premise explored by the author appears to deal only with over population. But I can’t help but wonder if the other stress factors involved with daily life are bleeding over. (Yeah, I may be jumping the gun but this has freaked me out) Not including those affected by medical depression the prescription of mood altering drugs is rampant with articles and reports saying that many people need something just to get through a normal day. Many times these are people that live in huge fabulous houses, drive new and expensive cars, and have tons of neat toys and gadgets. But yet in the struggle to supply all those possessions I personally know some that claim an emptiness in their lives that more possessions just make bigger. In the past most took comfort in religion to bring meaning in their life but for numerous reasons many find that not an option now.

So is the option now non-existence in the form of organized suicide and a possible movement toward extinction? And is this an example of the decay of Western Civilization when you call into question the very idea of living and speculate about the benefits of human extinction? I guess I will find out after I read the book.

The Harm Of Coming Into Existence by David Benatar

Most people believe that they were either benefited or at least not harmed by being brought into existence. Thus, if they ever do reflect on whether they should bring others into existence—-rather than having children without even thinking about whether they should—-they presume that they do them no harm. Better Never to Have Been challenges these assumptions. David Benatar argues that coming into existence is always a serious harm... The author shows that there are a number of well-documented features of human psychology that explain why people systematically overestimate the quality of their lives and why they are thus resistant to the suggestion that they were seriously harmed by being brought into existence. The author then argues for the 'anti-natal' view—-that it is always wrong to have children—-and he shows that combining the anti-natal view with common pro-choice views about foetal moral status yield a 'pro-death' view about abortion (at the earlier stages of gestation). Anti-natalism also implies that it would be better if humanity became extinct. Although counter-intuitive for many, that implication is defended, not least by showing that it solves many conundrums of moral theory about population.

One of the comments from the Amazon site about the book:

Emilana Uoj says:

I don't understand why people are hating this book without even reading it- so you're glass half full people- people that never question their lives or existence- you are actually his target audience- he needs to make you see that what you believe is b.s. and that you should really try to look at life more objectively to determine how "worth it" it is...

I think people really need to look at both sides of the story- everyone says that we're all so blessed to be alive... WHY?! the only reason why people say that is because they had no choice in the matter of coming into existence and the only way to gain some control is by pretending that you wanted to be here... so stop lying to yourselves.... you had no choice in being here... so yeah... now that we're here we make the best of it... but dont lie to yourself (and others) and say that life isn't hard and harmful...

if you hate the book so much just by the title- why dont you pick up and actually read it and see what his arguments are- and read it with an open mind!!

life sucks- there's no meaning- there's no purpose and you didn't even have a choice for whether to be in it or not... what's not horrible about that??? and if you're religious... i read a quote lately that's great- it goes something like... religious wars are like little kids fighting about whose imaginary friend is the strongest...

thank you very much

Okay, I’m stupid enough to bite and since I’m really having nothing else to post and I’ve ran out of beer, what to hell. Life is a huge pain in the ass with dealing with money issues and having to work for a living. But I guess I’m just not sophisticated enough not to enjoy watching a sunset, walking on a beach, playing with my kids, being around family and friends, or a whole bunch of other things. What amazes me though is the idea that life is so hard now. Yes, some live with medical, economic, and societal disadvantages that make life very difficult but a good many that walk around a complaining about how unhappy they are either have never seen how some people live in third world countries. Because someone has to put up with jerk of a boss or has sold themselves into credit card serfdom is nothing compared to having to walk miles for food or water or having to avoid armed squads looking to kill you because of your skin color, religion, or ethnicity.

I listed several factors above but I’m hard pressed to worry about what I can’t change and I have enough intelligence to recognize that I cannot buy happiness. And yes I had no choice in my existence but sorry, I find my existence a blessing and enjoy my life while trying to help others. I do not challenge your right to ask such questions and I will read the book but such whining suggests that your mental health is in question or that you

actually need to go out and get a real life.



I'm with you there Beach Bum. (Hell, I'll defend this life of mine whatever it takes.)

Not interested in getting the book; sounds too complicated and too serious for a simple sailor like me -- don't need to have to grapple with something that says coming into existence is harmful or whatever.

Keshi said...

Agree totally! Im not sure if I wanna read it.


The Zombieslayer said...

Sometimes I want to just smack people upside the head. Once they start whining about how hard they have it, I immediately think of living in the 3rd World and how nice it would be to teleport their dumb ass there.

I've stayed in the 3rd World twice. Both times, got parasites. It hurts. You throw up. You have diarrhea. You lose weight. You feel lethargic.

You get back to the 1st World and you pop a few anti-parasite drugs and feel great again. It's so easy living here. I love it. I've lived in the ghetto and I loved it. Sure we have plenty of stress. Who doesn't? So what, I say.

Nothing in the world like a nice, warm bath, which a lot of people here can't figure out that it's a freaking luxury for most people in the world. People who take this life for granted need to be smacked upside the head.

Sara Sue said...

If only everyone felt like you do.

Beach Bum said...

Hill and Keshi: Curiousity plays hell with me and this is like some car wreck you can't take your eyes off.

Slayer: Maybe its just me but I just don't see people who have to really work for a living whining about how meaningless life is for them. I'm going to have to pick on Dragonwife again but I've heard several of her friends complain about their streses and worries. Which usually involve having to deal with keeping the current BMW for another year or having to take time away from their tennis lesson to take their child to the doctor. oh my God I could have a another long post just for some of the absolutely crazy shit I've heard coming from both her co-workers and other girl friends.

Sara: I hope to God few feel like me since I freely admit that I may be just a couple hairs away from being insane.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you fully!

Does that mean I am insane too? Ok don't answer that!

Mike said...

I've spent some time in the "3rd world" too and I highly recommend it. It certainly lets you appreciate what you have a whole lot more.

It also makes you fully aware of our excesses.

Colonel Colonel said...

This author may fall into the category of social scientists with waaaay too much time on their hands.

Either that or the book is the result of losing a drunken bet at the office Christmas party. "No, no, I've got an idea much stupider than that that I bet I can find somebody to publish!"

Or, on the darker side, isn't this the sort of reasoning that was partially used to justify things like the euthenasia of the mentally retarded by the Nazis?

Beach Bum said...

PrePon:I know I'm going to get this wrong but I generally live by this statement: Only the truly insane think everyone else in the world is crazy. From my point of view with all the extreme weirdness going on in the world from the micro to the mega and most others going along with it I have to be the one out of his mind. The best example of such weirdness I can quickly see is who in the hell thought it would be a good idea to make another Rambo movie?

Mike: My son who along with my wife are absolutely about to freak wanting another fancier and bigger house. While I want to move but just to get in a different neighborhood they feel the need for a "better house". I was raised good old trailer trash for several years as I was growing up and just can't get them to understand how bad things can get or how good we have it right now.

Colonel: As I wrote earlier my curiosity is far stronger than my commonsense sometimes and I after discovered this book I knew I had to read it just to see how bad it can get, like passing a car wreck.
While I don't see it as probable, since there are plenty of other people just as completely nuts wanting attention as well, it is not impossible that some sort of movement could develop from this. Yes, like the Nazis. As I'm sure you well know humanity for some reason as a huge self destructive streak that mutates from time to time and bubbles to the surface. But to ne honest if I get the book, open it up and see just these words: "Haha, yes it was a joke!" I will be happy.

The Zombieslayer said...

Please do. I'd love to hear it.

A fellow blogger's ex-wife is about to have a nervous breakdown because she's learning how hard it is to have to work for a living. She has never had to work, until she left him. Now she's literally sick all the time, always tired, and depressed, and wishes she never left him.

Simply Curious said...

...don't we all.

Hey don't worry. When you get a little older, you'll lose those couple hairs holding you back and you can join me in being completely insane.

Tequila Mockingbird said...

that's the premise of one of pearl jams newer songs "world wide suicide"

MadMike said...

Beach if you would like to know what earth would be like without us raping everything in sight read:

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Beach Bum said...

Slayer: That lady sounds real familiar. While I'm waiting for this book to arrive I'm currently reading a military sci-fi novelist John Ringo. Ringo, while being a blowhard on some issues, wrote an afterword in one of his better novels waxing about about the "golden age" we are living in now and how it dulls and spoils the population. Its hard to remember the exact way he put it but when golden ages end the following age that takes it place has a really sharp learning curve. When our golden age ends many who threw away relationships and traditions will pay a heavy price.

Simply Curious: What a minute, if you are completely insane I am more than willing to join the ranks right now.

Tequila: Hadn't heard that one but like the book I will have to hear the song.

MadMike: Discovery will have a special on the book this coming Sunday. One of my favorite authors David Brin will be making some comments on the show.

Keshi said...

lolz true!


The Zombieslayer said...

John Ringo? Sounds familiar. I'll have to look him up.

Anonymous said...

Dear Beach Bum- your "biting" argument... is flawed due to the fact that it is a straw man argument. Go look it up. You take the other person's argument and you boil it down to something you can attack- instead of actually attacking the whole argument. You are so ridiculously retarded and not worth my time that I realized I'm not going to do this to myself... since i actually do have better things to do with my time... unlike you.