The Myth of Sisyphus
I was recently reading an article entitled: “Is It Ethical to Colonize Mars?” It was an opinion piece which appeared on CNN’s website at the following address:
The author ultimately decides it is ethical. However, I was struck by his reasoning. He argues if a nuclear disaster destroys humanity and its creations, then “all of human history is for nothing.” But if humans continue on Mars and have a record of our past, then “all of human history is not for nothing. There is still human meaning in the universe." I don’t like his premise at all. If humans don’t survive forever, then all is for nothing? But why must anything be eternal to matter in the sense he means? I don’t disagree that a universe devoid of a mind to understand deprives it of someone to give shape to the void, but nothing will ever negate the individual lives we had while here; or the meaning we gave to them. Which truly is for nothing? A universe where art and music never existed, or one that did – however brief? If ISIS destroys an antiquity, it is a tragedy; but I do not believe it destroys the prior glory of the creators. It happened. It was real. It meant something. And the fact and meaning of the creation towers over what happens to it in the end.
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was condemned to continuously roll a boulder up a hill, only to have it fall backwards again just before the peak. There was no Ultimate Purpose to it. Does that mean there was no purpose of any kind? I think writer Albert Camus’ essay about “The Myth of Sisyphus” ended with the right thought: “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart." To me, what matters is that humanity’s creations and loves existed at all – not that they last forever.
To bring this to the legal sphere, the reason we all fight so hard on cases is because our immediate place and circumstances in life matter to all of us. And they matter now. Not because anyone will care a million years from now.
So go ahead and colonize Mars and beyond. But if we don’t, it all still mattered to me.