Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
This Shakespearean quote aptly summarizes the human life in its umpteen manifestations. It appears that no one else had a better understanding of human life and its essential fragility than Shakespeare.
The human existence on this planet earth is a great saga, a saga of unending exploration and pursuit of truth. In this exploration, many a time they emerged triumphantly and found or invented many things that made their lives progressively comfortable. However, on numerous occasions, they faced failure and found that there are many things that are beyond their comprehension. And those things that remained an enigma to the humans are attributed to supernatural power, that is God. And this God delusion led them to religion. Maybe that is why Karl Marx, one of the greatest philosophers of all time, very aptly contended that “religion is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand”.
Humans, owing to their superior cognition, gained upper hand overall their fellow creatures, subjugated them and have been exploiting them. They created everything. They created money, gods, religion, technology and many more. Ironically, instead of keeping their creations as their loyal followers, they gradually enslaved themselves to the very things they had created. For most of the people, money is everything and they are ready to stoop to any low to get more of it. For many others, religion and Gods are everything and they don’t have even an iota of hesitation to kill their fellow humans on the pretext of defending their religion. And now, the humans, in their pursuit of science and technology, have developed the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). They are even creating too-many so-called useful things which are actually making humans useless.
They are developing machines that can perform each and every conceivable human activity, in the name of making human lives more comfortable. The capitalist society, in its unending pursuit of wealth, is producing too many things which are making humans progressively impotent and malady afflicted. The emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and deep machine learning are poised to create cognitive machines, which will possess human-like qualities. Their entry into workplaces will effectively make humans obsolete thus making the enslavement of humans to technology complete.
Some time ago, I was reading about René Favaloro, the Argentinean cardiac surgeon, who pioneered the bypass surgery. Interestingly, this surgeon, who saved numerous cardiac patients, committed suicide by shooting himself in his heart. Favaloro was the strongest man when he breathed new life into his patients by performing surgeries on them but proved to be the weakest man when he committed suicide by putting a bullet in his heart. His life and death signify the colossal strength as well as the utter fragility of human life.
However, most of the people, for inexplicable reasons, fail to understand this fragile and ephemeral nature of human existence and continue their materialistic pursuits till they breathe their last. This happens mostly with the well-educated urban dwellers. However, curiously, many uneducated rustic people in India come up with some deep philosophical musings, such as “however much wealth you accumulate you won’t be able to take it along with you on your final journey”.