The great philosopher, Albert Camus, once posed the question, “Should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee?” You can either enjoy what life has to offer, hence the drinking of coffee, or succumb into death; both choices are made while knowing the depressing reality that your life has no value to the universe. And the life that you call to be your own, will still maintain its lack of value until the very end. Human life has no intrinsic value. The crucial lesson in life is that you put effort and suffering into your passion, only to discover in the end, that all your effort and suffering will not matter in a few years, in a thousand years, and even in a billion years when Earth becomes a dead planet and the universe becomes an endless void of nothing. Putting value on a human life, is merely an illusion created by the desperate human mind in an attempt to create or find value in what is initially valueless; its value is nonexistent against a universe so grand and so massive. Why would the universe care to put value upon humanity, which inhabits a wet rock floating in space, amongst other planets, galaxies, stars, and all the other unknowns? We are a tiny dot; we are a speck of dust that happen to live at the right place and at the right time. We only know a small portion of the universe to conclude that humanity is not at the center of it.
Once this reality is realized, one can contemplate suicide, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet or accept life’s nonexistent value and find minimal happiness in the midst of the meaninglessness of it all, similar to Roger Ebert.And even then, on this small moist rock, evidently dying as time passes, life only manifests pain and suffering to its receiver. To breathe, to live, to survive, is to suffer. Hamlet’s suffering from this disease called life is expressed in his soliloquy as he contemplates whether or not to take his own life, in a world so cruel and so merciless; “That makes calamity of so long life; / For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, / The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, /The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, /The insolence of office and the spurns /That patient merit of the unworthy takes” (Shakespeare). What exactly is the point of living in a world that only lets you suffer? Hamlet is right to desire death, when it is hell to live and breathe in a world so cold-hearted. To choose to live, is not a matter of valuing life. Hamlet lacked a will to live, believes that his life is worthless — “set my life at a pin’s fee,” (Shakespeare) — and even desired death, but he chose to keep breathing.
Hamlet, simply, chose to live to free himself from the promised eternal damnation of his soul if he were to end his life; “The spirit that I have seen / May be the devil: and the devil hath power/To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps/Out of my weakness and my melancholy,/As he is very potent with such spirits,/Abuses me to damn me” (Shakespeare). If it were not for his religious beliefs, if it were not for the belief that his soul will perish in hell if he succumbed into suicide, Hamlet would have chosen the liberating death he wanted. After all, his life is worth nothing more than a pin’s fee. Life is without value, and without meaning. Once this is realized, one can do one of the two things: commit suicide, or continue living in the midst of the absurdity of life. Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus is a tale of a punished man who is eternally bound to carry a heavy rock up a mountain, only to watch it fall down.
Through his meaningless task, he finds happiness and becomes content with his situation. This poses an explanation as to why humans continue living, despite their insignificance, and discover a particle of happiness that lets them live through life’s meaningless and valueless purpose. Similar to Sisyphus, Roger Ebert describes the happiness he has found in life, “What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting” (Jones 5). When life becomes too absurd to live through, the human mind becomes desperate to hold onto a small crumb of happiness to guide them. Although meaningless, this happiness is the key to his life’s value. He began to value life by how he makes others happy too. He believes life is valued by how, “.
..we have done something to make others a little happier.
..We must try to contribute joy to the world” (Jones 54). Eventually, however, he will surrender himself back into the soil of the earth, his remains will be of no value, and his life will be a distant memory of humanity. When everything on earth has decayed, and humanity ceases to exist, Ebert’s happiness and value will be insignificant.Human life is devoid of any value. It does not matter how long you live to contribute to other’s happiness or if you contribute to the betterment of the world; it does not matter how short a life you live to stay as innocent and sinless as a human being can. Nothing matters in a universe so uncaring, so unappreciative, so unbothered, of humanity.
My own life does not have value. I can die tomorrow; I can die today. People will mourn for me for an amount of time, then I will become nothing but a memory of the past. I, and you, will be forgotten. We are made of the same stardusts as the rest of the universe.
In the end, we will dissolve into stardusts again. And again.