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A Profound and Utter Failure

For years I have puzzled about why someone would get into a state where they actively and wantonly worked toward the destruction of life itself. By “life” here, I don’t just refer to human life. I refer to the entire tree of life including all our fellow humans but also butterflies, trees, dolphins, and wolves. Everyone is actually part of that tree. So why should one part of the tree want to destroy the whole. 


Let’s take a journey back in time to your childhood. If you go back far enough, I think you will find a time when you would be susceptible to hatching the following fairly evil plot. 

Let’s say that you and your friends decided on a really cool project — say to build a treehouse. Each of you was responsible for one major item. Your individual responsibility was to get a very long extension cord. You realized you had the easiest job and therefore you put it off the longest. As you returned each good-weather day after school to the site of the treehouse, the progress was obvious. And one day you arrived and it was finished. All your friends were up in the treehouse. They all waved to you and invited you up. One held up a transistor radio with a portable TV and shouted, “Bring the extension cord! We can watch TV! Any channel we want!” 

photo of man holding rope

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But you didn’t have the extension cord. Now, of course, you probably just said, “Oh, darn! I forgot! I’m so sorry! I will go try to get one right now.” And, that would be that. You and your friends could have spent a summer or two enjoying that treehouse until you outgrew it and the weather made it unpleasantly moldy and unstable. 

Perhaps you can imagine a slightly different way of reacting. Instead of admitting you had forgotten, you instead reacted like this: “Well, why should you get to have fun up there while I have to go get an extension cord? A treehouse is stupid anyway. They’re unsafe! And once I tell your parents about it, they will forbid you to use it!” Can you imagine getting into a headspace, as a kid, where you would rather spoil the party than let anyone enjoy it if your own enjoyment was tarnished for any reason, including guilt? 

Or, imagine as a teenager that you and your friend both went to take the written test for a learner’s permit. You finished and failed with a score of 65. You watch your friend still working on the test. Do you want them to pass with a 75? 85? 100? Do you want them to fail? Personally, even as a teen, I would want them to succeed. However — I am very aware of a part of me that would like them to fail. Ironically, that part would have been wishing for my friend to fail more than for a random stranger to fail. Can you feel that too? 


So, these are some trivial instances where an immature person might be tempted to act as though, if they can’t have what they want, then no-one should. 

Now imagine someone who felt themselves to be a profound and utter failure. Absolute. Utter. A fraud. A person with negative wealth who claimed to be rich. A person completely unable to do their job. A person who fails at relationships, at work, and has no real friends. 


A person who nonetheless insists and screams and yells that they are perfect in all things and the best at everything. 

Imagine that they felt the only life that really matters is their own. 

Now imagine that they are about to die. 

Now imagine that they have to power to make others die with them. 

Many others. Many, many others. And not just human beings.

person holding black and green bird

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

Such a person would have no affection for pets or for wild animals. 

Might such a person want to destroy the entire tree of life because they view themselves as a profound and utter failure?

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