Opinion

Emanuel Derman

The End

By Emanuel Derman
April 16, 2012

When the era of rationality finally dawned, it became clear to everyone that love doesn’t last. Furthermore, everyone agreed that humans spend too much of their youth immersed in and distracted by the misery of courtship and the agony of unfulfilled sexual attraction, and so much of their middle and old age in the sadness of waning attraction and regret. No one in the era of rationality was in favor of unavoidable human pain. So, when the entire human race decided that the complications caused by lust weren’t, in the end, worth it, they concluded that people would live much more calmly and pleasantly in a society where sexual competition was absent. It soon became clear that humans would be better off if everyone simply stopped reproducing.

Some people argued that one should end not just the human experiment but the entire life-on-earth experiment, and humans did briefly consider putting an end to the reproduction of all life forms. Other people argued persuasively that (a) it wasn’t practical to eliminate every single species, especially the invisible ones, and (b) it wasn’t up to humans to make decisions for others. What was most convincing about the plea to let other species be was the argument that, since eliminating sexuality was really an attempt to eliminate pain, humans had no right to inflict on other animals the pain of forcible elimination of sex. This argument won the day. So, humans simply decided to stop reproducing, voluntarily, but to let animals and germs and viruses be. Some people suggested that in that way evolution might throw up something better, but no one really cared. It wasn’t their business.

It turned out to be easy to convince people to try to stop reproducing. And once everyone agreed, it wasn’t that hard to put into practice. People took to the idea surprisingly quickly. For a brief time some continued with occasional acts of contracepted sexual intimacy, but soon found that the greater ideal of human interactions free of the strains of lust was workable and preferable. Boys and girls became really good friends, even post adolescence; competition between people of the same sex and between the sexes themselves decreased; husbands and wives stopped arguing; eventually even gay couples whose continued sexual behavior would have been compatible with the cessation of the human race found that they weren’t really that interested in the act itself. As a result, everyone went about their work more seriously and the experiment became a movement and a success. Life became pleasant, though never ecstatic, and that seemed good.

It was soon realized that as older people died out, there would be no new generation to support the decreasing population. Since the avoidance of pain was the original aim of the entire project, no one wanted to inflict the pain of limited food and medical resources on the last members of the human race who would be living their final years in seven or eight decades. It became obvious that planning was necessary to ensure that, as the population diminished, there would still be essential services, and luxuries too. Public planners devised an optimal scheme of training for rotating duties, for the creation of automatically sustained power plants, for the stockpiling of canned and frozen food, for the supply of vitamins and drugs and partially automated medical care, so that as the population diminished, there would always be sufficient production and storage of food, clothing and medical supplies to support the remaining people. Less and less would of course be needed as time went by.

Comments
3 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Don’t worry, every day I see families with large numbers of children, which are still considered a blessing if not an outright religious duty, and the impulse to deliberately propagate will not go away, except in various classes.

Posted by FranklinChen | Report as abusive
 

I agree. In the end, the will to exist and to propagate is what provides our pleasures of all kinds, and our pains. Can’t really get rid of one without the other.

 

“…everyone went about their work more seriously…”

Focus provides its own satisfactions.

Not.

fm

Posted by retheauditors | Report as abusive
 

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