You want to save the world with me, you say. What an interesting offer. You seem like a genial fellow, so I expect that you won’t mind if I take a bit of time to ponder this offer.
You say that we should save the world, but the world has always needed saving, and better men than you have tried by the millions. How many have died thinking as you did, doing the things you will do, thinking the things you have not yet thought?
The world will go on far beyond the lives of men. The thing you want to save is not the world. You just think it is.
So let us build a better world you say. Fine. But this does not make you special. This does not make you different. You are still acting the exact same way as everybody else. Consider how that bodes for your odds of success.
Everybody wants better. Everybody wants a piece of that. Better sounds good. Better sounds profitable. Bigger, better, more, for cheaper, on and on and on and on. Forever.
I want better food. I want a better paycheck. I want a better life. I want better things to do. I want a better husband. I want better clothes. I want a better car.
I want a better world.
But I’m sure you’re thinking of others when you want a better world. Why would I ever doubt you?
But don’t you care, you say. Don’t you want to improve the lives of other? Do not your compassion and your empathy drive you towards this goal, or are you an inhuman monster incapable of either one?
Yes, I say. It is true that I do not possess compassion the way you do. It is true that my reserves of empathy are meager and diminished, but I am not bereft of either. An excess can be a malady as detrimental as a deficiency, and cancer can sap a man’s strength in equal measure as malnutrition.
It is not me I fear for, but for you.
I see, I know your type. I know exactly what drives you, what compels you, what keeps you lying awake at night in that dark reverie before you fall to the embrace of sleep. I know indeed, for these distant eyes that to you seem so cold can burn right through you and see you for what you are, which is why you fear them so.
You wish to save the world not because you are driven by compassion but because you burn with a mad desire to assuage the nagging feelings of doubt simmering in the darkest corners of your psyche that tell you that your existence is meaningless and you were put on this earth for no other reason than to die. You think it is altruism that guides you? It is fear, nothing more, fear of the horrifying truth that maybe, just maybe, you are exactly as worthless as you think you are.
Compassion. Empathy. Altruism. Self-sacrifice. Do not let me be the one who must tell you that you fetishize those things because you do not have them, for I will not sweeten this pill with honeyed words and soothing lies.
You are not a noble paladin in shining armor, you are a frightened doe bounding through the woods, driven on by the fear of all the illusions and the nightmares that you imagine would consume you. You push on, your body moving not by conscious choice but out of a panicked instinct to flee from your own existential dread, that black leviathan whose maw you fear more than even the cold embrace of death itself.
You will never outrun that monster. He will hunt you to the ends of the earth, and though you may tire, he never will. Will you never learn that the chase only ends when you face the monster and gamble on what happens when you look him in the eye?
You fear that he will consume you. You fear that he will end you and devour you and prove to you the truth of all your fears, and so you find yourself bounding on, no strength within you to stand and fight but plenty of strength from without to fuel your mad stampede across the earth and to the end of time.
But if you cannot face the monster, how can you face yourself?
If you don’t have the strength to enjoy your nightmares, get out of the way of those of us who do.
But we have to do something, you exclaim, your voice wavering as you cry. But you betray yourself, for well you know that all actions have consequences, and the most monumental consequences are always the ones you did not perceive. The calamities that bring the walls of your hopes and dreams and minor schemes crashing down hide in the blind spots that you do not even know are there.
There is a reason why they say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and who has the greatest of intentions if not for you?
But everybody wants to save the world.
No. Everybody wants to save themselves.
The world has always been ending. The world has always been in need of saving. We have always walked in the dark of a fallen age.
You want to save the world? Have the strength to walk away.
Maybe then you’ll find the peace you seek.