A seemingly non-controversial story from Malta offers an important glimpse into a psychological phenomenon that has gripped much of post-modern western culture.
The idea that humans ought to strive for impossible immortality and even worse, act as the gatekeepers of immortality for the natural environment which surrounds us, has long been a source of unneeded worry among many.
For many years, the Azure Window of Gozo was one of Malta’s most famed tourist destinations. A rock formation which framed a small cave over the see was as popular to swim through as it was to climb.
Due to recent storms, the Azure Window has collapsed into the sea.
Everything eventually reaches a natural end. Humans and animals age and die. Species die out, cliffs erode, rock formations collapse. The creations of man also decay and die. Buildings like their natural counterparts crumble, paintings fade, photos lose colour, records lose their grooves and cars break down beyond repair.
There is nothing that mankind can do to change this. Decline, decay and collapse is an inevitable part of the life cycle of any structure or organism. The best that humans can do is to respect their natural environment and respect the lives of those around them.
Many have lost this balance. People take pills, endure operations and lead unnatural lifestyles in attempts to grasp the untenable nettle of immortality.
Complex laws are passed regulating humanity’s interaction with the natural environment. Yet a simple exercise in restraint and respect would do far more to ease the unnatural corrosion of structures like the Azure Window than bloated bureaucracy.
As it is, the Maltese authorities say that the collapse of the Azure Window was unavoidable. It was simply the result of a storm combined with the long process of natural erosion.
This is how people ought to think of their lives. They ought to live well, but not obsessively. They ought to consume less and plant more. They ought to look a bit more and touch a bit less. They ought to conserve without ego and allow for decay without morose sentimentality.
Restraint does more to preserve the best elements of the world than does hysteria, compulsion, spontaneity or extreme action.
Everything eventually dies. If people enjoyed things more before they did rather than shorten life’s happiness by fretting over the inevitable, people would attain a far higher measure of psychological health….but it’s bad for business.
The preservation industry is big money. From useless pills, to needless surgeries, to environmental protection agencies, the cost of trying to play God offers great dividends to individuals with vested interests.
Things are out of balance, but so long as the books are balanced, nothing will change.