It has taken me forty-six years to embrace the obvious: Earth is purgatory. By this I mean an in-between world, combining elements of Asmodeus and Amaterasu. It is a realm designed to require and even invite killing. Even vegetarians inflict death on plants. Any kill destroys not only life, a wordlessly profound gift, but great beauty as well. Is not a leaf more exquisite than a Picasso?
Nature abounds with ravage and miracle. The lion crunches the larynx of the terrified oryx. Ants stream to gnaw the throes of a monarch butterfly. The Artist behind the scenes is no kindly god but rather Competition most merciless and cruel. Legions suffer, fail, and rot so that a few might survive and toil onward, shackled to that brutal overseer: natural selection.
This is our global habitat, replete with hurdles and wonders. We endure fickle charms, like weather and health, and our insides swim with little creatures, rendering us cauldrons that seethe with conflict.
Some of these microbes, seen under the lens, resemble spiral galaxies. And are not we humans microcosms of the Earth itself, foaming with battles under the skin, unseen from afar?
Worst of all, we slay each other. History is a grievous march of bloodshed, despots, and torture. Rape and incest were, and to a huge extent still are, ubiquitous and impervious.
Even Jehovah hops on the bandwagon: “I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh.” (Deuteronomy 32:42)
As does Muhammad: “Paradise lies in the shadow of swords.”
Here’s the catch. We as individuals can’t escape the general current of weal and woe, but we still have choice. This purgatorial world, loom of wicked and good threads, pastiche of the terrible and the magnificent, is the perfect judging ground. Both heaven and hell are in evidence, as are hooks and carrots each way.
The Buddhist notion of karma holds serious relevance.
Who is judging, I don’t know. Maybe only a nonexistent magistrate of what-could-be. A diaphanous angel of what-reason-could-do.
If even one person succeeds in not abusing whatever little power she has, a statement is made about a possible future, and a lone soul achieves a rare greatness, one far more deserving of gold than those chests of murderous generals, which shine with numerous gleams of awful and perverse vainglory and pride.