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What's it all about, Alfie?

Hamlet wonders if we wouldn't rather end our burdensome lives but for the fear of what might come after.  "...conscience," he says, meaning consciousness, "does make cowards of us all..."  And it is that cowardice that prompts us to take all the shit that our society and culture deals out to us.

Ernest Becker suggests that it is rather a fear that what comes after is...nothing.  Here we are, so full of ourselves, of our own power, or of the power of our heroes, full of our own grand ideas of the future, having to face the fact of our puny, fragile animal selves, forever consuming and excreting, forever on the edge of nothingness...the murderer in the night, the unpredictable storm, the invisible microbe poisoning our attempts at greatness.

Becker calls them our "immortality projects," these grand plans: culture, religion, state, corporation...the everlasting ideas that will carry our spirits into the future after our corporeal selves have turned to dust.  And it is these very immortality projects that are driving us to our destruction, as we extract ever more quickly the dwindling resources that are needed to carry them on.

I say it is time we chose a different set of burdens, time to bear fardels of our own making, to grunt and sweat to carry the weight of our own lives and deaths, rather than outsourcing those burdens to "professionals."  Sing your own song, shovel your own shit, lift your brother if he falls and never ask for payment.

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