A few weeks ago, I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and liked it. The book is quite funny and not overtly sentimental for a story about two teenagers suffering from cancer. The teenagers, Hazel Grace and Augustus, were actually portrayed as smart and witty people (in most novels, teenagers come across as imbeciles.) The most touching part of it was the courage and strength of the parents faced with the possibility of their kids dying at a young age.
But I didn’t like this idea on life and death presented in the novel-
“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”
My first reaction to this was, “How does any of that matter?!” Who cares if there’s no one left to remember us after we die? I don’t think a dead person would bother about such things, being dead.
Even if the human race dies out after a million years, the contributions we make will still have made a difference to the lives of some people, even if it’s only during our lifetimes, or for a few years after. Just because our everything we did will be forgotten someday, it will not have been for naught, because we will die knowing that we have accomplished something of value.
Maybe, in this story, it’s just a case of sour grapes. These kids are faced with death at a young age, with no chance to achieve whatever childhood ambitions they may have had. So they’re probably trying to console themselves with the idea that no dream is worth struggling for and nothing is worth achieving, because humans will not survive forever. But I don’t think the lives of Hazel and Augustus can be considered futile, as they made each other’s lives worth living.