Few matters are as unsettling and essential as the acknowledgment of human finitud. So incumbent that many schools of thought considered it a cornerstone for achieving a virtuous life. The ancient world is full of examples of wisemen actively pursuing the internalisation of our transitory nature. From characters larger than life such as Democritus visiting tombs, to Roman emperors and generals having friends or slaves whispering to them, at their greatest moments of triumph, “memento morí”, -remember that you have to die-.
It may appear that life is too short as for going through it baring in mind such dark thoughts. But it is because life is too short that we need to navigate through it with full consciousness of its fleeting nature. But if our parasite-ridden ancestors found it hard to grasp the very concept, what can we expect of a generation forged under the protection of antibiotics and vaccines? We live in a time in which people dream about interstellar voyages and exploiting the minerals of planets out there. How can we understand the wisdom of men an women so far removed from us, as the Ancient Greeks or the imperial romans are?
Indeed we don’t , actually it could be argued the opposite, that we simply wasted our heirloom. The grim reality is that our current situation demands not only being aware of our own mortality, but that the path that we have been following is leading us to a scenario in which there will be no need to be aware of our mortal nature, because there will be no one around. The mother of all memento morí is knocking at our doors, we’re indeed risking extinction. An absolute extinction of the genere Homo? Probably not, and I guess it is not hard to imagine that is not going to be a ball for that fraction of traumatised survivors. We’re following very closely our already extinct ancestors.
Are they yelling, “You will become extinct too?” Well, hopefully later instead of sooner.