Buckle up, we're gonna go deep.
I've been thinking about cycles. Or maybe pendulums. I've been thinking about the idea that our world seems to go back and forth between good times and bad times in a thousand big and small ways. Maybe billions of ways.
I've been thinking about U.S. presidential elections for the past several decades. We go back and forth between Republicans and Democrats in power over and over again. For a while things seem good, and then suddenly the world comes crashing down. How in the fuck did we end up with Reagan? Then we had H.W. Bush in there for a term, and then Bill Clinton! What a guy! He balanced the budget! Then what the fuck, how did we end up with George W. Bush? This guy that just wanted to be baseball commissioner but was probably too incompetent to even do that. Then Obama! Oh happy day, everything's going to be fine now. Except now Republicans won't let him do anything. And then.
But as we cycle between bad and not as bad (Bill and Barack are still neoliberal capitalists), it seems like we're shifting ever further to the right, with Republican presidents getting less and less qualified and more and more evil. And in the process, the integrity of U.S. elections has been destroyed, corporations have gained personhood status, Wall Street has been deregulated, millions of people (mostly of color) have been imprisoned and forced to do free to almost free labor, and fascism is on the rise again! It's like the U.S. presidential pendulum is part of a much larger pendulum swinging us further and further into the side of shit.
Then there's the cycle of the rise and fall of empires. I posted about that ridiculous "raw water" trend yesterday. Did you know that just before the collapse of the Roman empire, in that terminal end stage of their reign, their rich people were also engaging in absurd decadence? It's like the final seal of the apocalypse.
What goes up must come down. There are also theories about good vs. evil in terms of the idea that evil has to win sometimes. Whether it's half of the time or a third of the time. It's always a cycle where a good chunk of the time, evil wins and people suffer. At the same time, I've read about pain-pleasure cycles that every individual person goes through. There's the idea that we can't have pleasure without pain. And have you ever noticed that so much of our fiction relies on the same idea? How many kingdoms have we invented that have gone through a period of peace and prosperity, but then inevitably comes periods of war and suffering? Evil forces that rise up again and again every few decades or centuries. Can we even conceive of a world where mass suffering doesn't happen?
So I'm wondering if there's a way to break free from these cycles/pendulums or whatever metaphor you want to use. I know people will want to jump in and tell me that it's human nature for people to cause suffering. To try and gain power and wealth by taking from others. And if that's your impulse, to jump in and tell me that, pre-emptively go fuck yourself. Because you're not helping.
But maybe these cycles are as inevitable as the eventual death of the sun. If that's the case, the only reasonable path for someone who isn't an asshole is one of harm reduction. Minimize suffering where you can. But I don't like that answer one bit.
There's another theory I've been thinking about a lot. And I think it's what I've come to believe, because it makes life easier to get through. It's the idea that every bit of reality we know is just the universe, as an entity, experiencing. Experiencing life. Possibilities. Mortality. Joy and suffering. And I am a part of that universe, playing out a scenario - a life - to help it experience and understand one of an infinite different types of pain-pleasure, good-evil cycles. What will she come to believe, understand, and do with her short life?
It's nice to believe in because it means that everything that happens does have a purpose, and when I die I get to rejoin the universe. It also means it's my job to keep living and keep trying. And since I can't not believe in doing good and fighting for what's right and just, I'm going to have to keep doing that. Even if evil can't be stopped.
2018 is going to be better.