The quest for immortality


Dennis Gosnell, Assignment Editor

From statues to religious deities, humanity has sought to find ways in which to immortalize their deeds and civilizations.

Defining immortality

The deeds of single individuals in more ancient times immortalized their lives in writing by performing and accomplishing heroic deeds.  What is it that has been immortalized though? Is it a person’s name or the significance of an event or series of events?

In ancient Greece, an individual’s deeds determined one’s significance.  In Rome, a soldier’s loyalty and dedication to the people determined one’s station and renown.

“Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity.” – Maximus Decimus Meridius, 2000 film Gladiator .

The events of a person’s life can become immortalized by their impact on the civilization and era in which they live.  Christians immortalized Jesus of Nazareth for his sacrifice to save humanity from their sins.  Muslims have immortalized Muhammad through acceptance of his messages from Allah, which in turn signified him as the prophet of the Islamic peoples.

“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Differentiating cultural standards

When death can fall like a stone from a mountain, having a life that is remembered long after death is the crux upon which people focus themselves to drive forward in their life.

In today’s modern world, with billions of people living in close approximation to each other, making a lasting impression becomes a rather daunting and unrealistic goal.

How then do people immortalize their life?

Quite simply, it has come down to reproduction.  A common belief has sprung up through the people in which the name of the parents becomes immortalized through their offspring.

In Asian countries, the conduct and deeds of the children reflect greatly on the parents.  Thus, children are taught discipline and how to conduct themselves so that the family, and those associated with the family are immortalized.

In contrast, parents in western cultures have diverse methods for raising their children. Western cultures put such an emphasis on independence and self will that the ensuing disarray of monetary worth and gain leaves one to seek immortalization through consumption and material possession.

Immortality comes in many forms.  Whether it is going to heaven, the longevity of a family name, or artifacts; all peoples through all times wish to be remembered lest their lives mean nothing, and their time on this planet be forgotten.

The quest for immortality is consistent and consumes the peace that is just off the path.  People get so wrapped up in pursuing their own material quest that the constant conflict of the individual undermines the life they wish to live.

Moving forward and learning from the past

Acceptance and understanding is the cure to this dilemma that has plagued humanity for the entirety of its existence.

“The Roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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