“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
The adult mind when it finally forms itself at varying ages from person to person, is defined by what we call maturity. Maturity comes in many forms, taking responsibility for one’s actions, respecting others, putting the good of the group before oneself, are some popular examples, but some very mature people down through the years have displayed none of these virtues. Is maturity more just the human who has stopped dreaming and seen the wood for the trees. Is the person best acquainted with the true nature of reality bound to the most success? Hard workers for me are the ultimate pessimists, in that they leave very little to chance, and hard workers change the world.
As I transition into middle age I wonder will I become the one of the men I worked with in my youth, in their cotton work shirts tucked into M&S trousers, turning up to work day after day, grinding it out, before returning to a mountain of bills, and a wife who has become like their best friend they occasionally fuck by accident after a few cans.
I wonder at what point did they realise, yep this is it, I have looked my last on youth, it was fun, but I am not a famous comedian, author, singer, footballer, I didn’t set up my own business and travel the world, this is it. Or maybe you tried, like so many with stars in your eyes you chased your dreams safe in the knowledge that it is possible, of course, it is, it is possible for somebody, but when did you realise it wasn’t going to happen for you, that reality is not like the movies, in fact, that’s the very reason we go to movies in the first place.
You are not special, you don’t deserve anything for being a good sport, your break isn’t just around the corner.
And yet the human mind is designed with optimism to the point of delusion at its very core. At first, a hugely important factor in our evolution from hunter-gatherers to farmers, to artists and engineers. But this inherent optimism was never a respecter of reason and logic, it may have inspired voyages of discovery and advances in science and learning, but it also rendered whole societies captivated by charismatic despots who they believed knew all the answers until they were exposed or died.
But were they exposed by some moral universe? The last just War, as it is known disposed one vicious, charismatic pervert, but this was largely because a by a more ruthless, less charismatic psychopath by the name of Joe Stalin made it happen. Yes, the free west stormed the beaches of France but without the brutality of the eastern front, this was by no means a foregone conclusion. In reality, a brutal flare of up of evil was eventually snuffed out by more brutality in greater numbers, and not by the goodness of free men. If Karma means beating evil to death, then yes you could say this was a just war.
When I was a child our local church was robbed and some money stolen. Who could risk such a crime? I thought, who would dare risk angering God for a few quid. Of course, as the years advanced and maturity set in, this was, of course, the musings of an innocent. But maybe it is relevant.
What stops all of us from acting on our base instincts is our internal morality, our own private church, with its own dictums and doctrine. We all have one, and when we rob our own church we feel bad.
But not all of us have an internal church, some of us engage with reality, and reality has no church, and they know it. They will do whatever it takes to make their reality as good as it can be. And of course, as the world is a cosmic comedy at heart, these instincts have given rise to the greatest most comfortable time for vast swathes of the population of planet earth. Capitalism while enslaving millions has also given rise to some truly great times, all made possible by a devout focus on the material world. The system that so richly rewards the unethical and the selfish, has taken us to new heights as a species. Until of course we get to the Elephant in the room. Balance. Justice, evil, good and morality might be the purvey of the individual conscience but balance certainly is not. Balance is pure brutal physics a binary dimension of yes and no, of life and death with no particular opinion either way.
And so when the ethical people of late 20th-century earth lobbied the leaders of the free world to do something on climate change, it was with good intentions, with maturity, you might say, with right action. They almost swung the balance, almost. Regan’s election in 1984 put pay to any hope this moral uprising would gain the ascendancy and we continued in an inexorable slide into hothouse earth.
I wonder when the last humans roam the earth in despair, over the ruins of their once great civilisations, in this century, will they muse over this bitterest of conclusions. When all is said and done, It was people without good conscience, people fueled by greed darkness that drove us to this abyss. There was no guiding God after all. For all our great philosophers, cathedrals made of stone and glass, golden Buddhas and beautiful songs, it was all really just in our own minds all along. Just the same beautiful optimism that took us from the trees to the fields, nothing more. There never was a moral universe, as much as we tried to find one, there was just balance between love and self-interest, and in the case of one highly evolved monkey on a jewel of a planet, self-interest was always going to be it’s undoing. And when the last human dies, when the last mind who ever wondered about its workings goes with it, will the universe itself in all its vastness just become another tree in the forest that nobody heard fall.