Essay Proposal: Things Fall Apart

We owe our existence to stars. More accurately we owe it to the fact that they eventually die. If they’re massive enough they collapse under their weight after their core turns to iron, among other elements, and the resulting explosion sends the building blocks of our world across the universe.

In 1950, three years into the Cold War, William Faulkner gave a speech after winning the Nobel Prize, he said, “I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he along among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”

There are natural laws which govern the order of the cosmos: the apple will fall, the river will flow, and the wind will blow. If the very hands that gave birth to us–stars–can fall apart, then we would be fools to believe we aren’t susceptible to the same fate.

For my third essay of the quarter I propose a challenge to Faulkner’s belief in humanity. Climate change threatens our entire planet, political and fiscal gains trump our needs and undermine our best intentions, and the population is increasing at a rate that will soon (if it isn’t already) grow unsustainable. Are there solutions to these problems? Absolutely. We have most of the answers for that which ails us, but can we implement them before the system itself collapses under its own weight?

Humanity is known to shine under crisis, achieve its finest, but how long is too long? Can we sustain our planet and society with politicians who’re clueless about science? Corporations who are clueless about their employees? A world which can’t gasp the finite delicate system that is Earth? As depressing as it is, the odds are stacked against us, and if we are going to take action it needs to happen soon–or Faulkner won’t have grave to turn in.

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