Anonymous asked: Hazel thinks we are as likely to harm the universe as help it, but do you really believe that's true? While we may not be superheroes and save the world (as Augustus wants), even ordinary people just trying to do good is helping more than it is hurting, right?
I think we are as likely to harm the universe as we are to help it, yes. (Actually, I think nothing any human being ever does will have any overall effect on the universe. I mean, you’re talking about a single organism among trillions living on a single sphere among trillions in a single galaxy among 100-500 billion galaxies in a universe without an edge. It’s very difficult to get your head around just how small a part of the universe we are, and on some level, claiming that we can shape the universe is a little bit like the grain of sand on the beach that believes it can control the tides.)
Also, trying to do good is not the same thing as doing good. Many, many people have tried to do good and in the process done harm.
Of course, and this is the miracle to me, none of this exempts us from trying to do good. We must still serve our fellow humans, and the idea of life itself, as best we can—we must still strive to create a world in which people can lead healthy and productive lives without destroying biodiversity on our little sphere.
I don’t find our relative insignificance disheartening at all: The main thing it tells me is that in a culture that worships celebrity and the purportedly extraordinary, ALL people are ordinary people. ALL people have the same responsibilities to themselves and to each other. Maybe the universe cares nothing for us, but WE care about each other. And most encouragingly, we care not just for our friends or family but for the whole enterprise of life—we care about strangers and about humpback whales and, most beautifully of all, we care about the dead. We try with our lives to honor theirs. That’s how we make our lives meaningful, and how we make their lives meaningful, too.