Let’s start at the end. None of us have a whole lot of spare time on our hands, our lives are busy and attention spans strained. So I’m going to just skip right to the punchline. Except, in this case it’s actually more of an epitaph. That’s what I’ve been thinking about. We’re all going to die.
I apologise if that came across a little melodramatic. I figured it might be good for a bit of traction (ugh, bad word) because, for me, it’s up there with other classics of apocalyptic portent such as ‘the end is nigh’. Which is also pretty relevant right now.
I want to talk about how we’re doing in general terms. And this is not about me, there’s so much more important stuff going on than the largely unremarkable mix of anxieties that keep me up at night. My shit is farcical. It’s first world, white, heterosexual and male. At times I’m ashamed of this privilege. At other times I am thankful that I have not had to experience the horrors endured by those less fortunate.
So fuck me. Let’s talk about this. Who’s up for it, now’s the time right? In the past year we’ve borne witness to an ever more surreal cycle of news. It is an actual melodrama of bluster and threat, both real and imagined. The Earth’s most inconceivably ludicrous gutter dwellers have risen to wield a kind of dread supernatural power that was previously reserved for clowns in Stephen King novels. We are literally living in their fantasy.
Our online planet is beset, social media is a dark juggernaut of seething divisive bile. The venal leaders of the most powerful nations manipulate us and deceive themselves. I want to turn away. I don’t want to watch anymore. It’s gross in a way that’s not entirely unlike an episode of Rick and Morty. I have to know how it ends.
We do know how these things end though. We have a maddeningly short memory. We should know better.
Via Street View I’ve looked at the facade of an apartment at Agathanstrase 3 which my father’s parents called home in Hamburg. There are a pair of stones embedded in the cobbles out the front that record their names. Benjamin and Kraine. And their deaths. They died on a train to Auschwitz. So many of these stories are told and untold across the globe, millions upon millions. This enormous toll is how it ends. We’re all going to die.
The question I’ve been thinking about is how we’re going to live and here’s where I should just hand it over to the kids of America. Look at them, they’re doing it right now, they’re standing up and they’re marching. Them and women. And black people. And gay people. These are the people that fill me with hope and they make me want to help.
These people remind me of how powerfully wonderful we can be, that things may yet work out. Yes, we are all going to die, but we may yet be able to rest in peace.