Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from Note From The President, Cerebus #142, January 1991)
Fellow wrote and asked me a while ago why it is that I never address the "pressing problems of the day". Probably because I don't see them as problems. Most of them are just opposing quirks (ie. we say that unemployment is a problem at the same time we are replacing people with machines; we say overpopulation is a problem but we let anyone who wants to have a baby). With opposing quirks all you can do is shrug and soldier on as best you can.
We're afraid of death which is a lot like being afraid of exhaling or falling asleep. You will breath. You will fall asleep. You will die. We've eliminated or curtailed virtually every known cause of death. 'Cancer can be beaten' but death is still inevitable. Do you know anyone on the planet we can't do without? There isn't anyone. We are all perfectly expendable. The last one you could even make a case for was Albert Einstein, and after E=MC2 we'd already gotten out of him the best that he had to offer. If all the AIDS patients died tomorrow there wouldn't even be a hiccup in the history books. If all the people with blue eyes died tomorrow we'd still be drastically overpopulated. I love, by the way, the Anarcho-witch-feminist argument against overpopulation; that if everyone in the world turned 'vegomatic' tomorrow we could support ten times the population we have now. I swear those broads won't be happy until the whole planet looks like one big Woodstock festival (minus any music or loud talking for fear we'll "wake the babies").
Check the news, man. Any night. "Twenty die in India bus catastrophe." Twenty people. Like, we won't somehow muddle along without twenty Indians ...or Mexicans ...or Canadians ...or Germans. Where is our fucking sense of proportion? Scour a globe with 5.3 BILLION inhabitants and the best you can turn up is twenty dead. If everyone lined up on the Saudi border died in the first day of fighting it would still only be a drop in the bucket. One million dead. Two million.
Childbirth is not a miracle. Life is not sacred. When you have twenty-thousand nomads huddled between two rivers in the Middle East and that's it for Homo sapiens; when one in five children is a live birth, one in ten living past the age of ten, then childbirth is a miracle and life is sacred. When the average age of a grandmother in Philadelphia's housing projects is twenty-five, to call childbirth a miracle is at the least a tasteless joke and at worst a true obscenity.
We can feel the pressure building when we dare to look at it. "All you need is love" must have tickled Thanatos to his ice-cold, moss-covered, maggot-ridden heart. We find ourselves in a "Life Out of Balance" circumstance of boggling proportions. If there is transmigration of souls, everyone who ever lived on this planet ever is back here right now. Death is not fooled. We haven't eliminated Him. He is very, very, very, very, patient.
You know what I think happens when the last soul emerges again from some goo-gooing, placid, beatific anarcho-witch-vegetarian so that there's no more souls to draw on? I think its happened before in the distant past. Several times. On that day (I believe) we can all go out to the graveyard and watch the gray blue fingers pushing up through the sod; coming for us; for all of us. I think that's where those stories come from; and they only become popular when the time is near. Very near.
"Pressing problems of the day".
"Newspaper, radio and TV ga-ga", because nobody will just buy the advertising.
Ah, I probably don't believe half of that. The other half is still worth thinking about, though. Don't you think?