As above, so below, as within, so without. The eternal battle between Order and Chaos, Form and Entropy, takes place within our own bodies. At death, everything that makes us who we are disintegrates, becoming amorphous corruption.
You are most who you are when you are strong. When you fall apart, when the body fails and the mind follows, identity fragments. That’s why we sadly say an elderly person lost to dementia is “already gone.”
“No matter how long and intense the training,” said Yukio Mishima, “our body, deep down, is progressing little by little towards decadence.” That thought so tortured the Japanese author that he committed ritualistic suicide rather than face aging.
As we’ve discussed before, many cultures and religions believe the dead somehow live on “in their prime,” either as proud warriors or in perfected bodies. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs about the afterlife or lack thereof. But when it comes to our physical bodies, we all know we’re born into a losing struggle.
We age. We sicken. We die. The only question is how we respond.
There are two alternatives. You can rage against it, while acknowledging its inevitability. You can build power, seek adventure, create legends. Demand the impossible. Become your true self, your highest self, your greatest self. And live a Myth that will last forever.
The alternative is to preach decline, weakness, and death. It’s to define yourself by your flaws and sicknesses. More than that, it’s to use your weaknesses as a weapon against others. This is the Victim Culture that reigns today.
Morality, after all, is a Will to Power. Morality is the after-the-fact justification rulers use to defend concrete interests. The various “-isms” people fight against are just ideological constructs. If you go along with their morality, you’re giving them license to your money, your time, your life.
The newest “-ism” is “Ableism.”
Obviously, if someone is sick or hurt, it’s reasonable for society to accommodate them. It’s cruel to mock or stigmatize people for poor health. Even those who are strong can be instantly struck down by illness or injury. We should always be conscious that we can’t take health for granted.
Thousands of young Americans have lost limbs or suffered terrible brain injuries after fighting in the Middle East. Mocking such people, instead of honoring them, is perverse.
But does anyone actually do this? What problem is “ableism” supposed to solve?
Today, it seems “ableism” is a celebration of disability rather than a justified request for dignity. Just a few days ago, #YouMightBeAbleistIf trended on Twitter. Many of the complaints focused on the “ableism” of people who encourage weightlifting, losing weight, or bodybuilding.
It’s “ableist” for fictional characters to have a handicap removed.
It’s “ableist” to develop technology that will allow those crippled by sickness to walk.
It’s “ableist” to hope your newborn child is healthy.
It’s “ableist” to tell fat people to lose weight – in fact, to end “fatphobia” we need to end Western Civilization itself.
This isn’t compassion. It’s fetishizing weakness and ugliness. Most people who are hurt or ill want to get better, not be congratulated that they are part of the “oppressed” class. If being sick or suffering is inherently good, it would mean that we should stop practicing medicine or studying diseases, lest we “stigmatize” or “erase” those we can’t immediately cure.
Helping those who are hurt and tolerating destructive habits are two different things. Someone who is fat because they lack self-control doesn’t deserve praise, but tough love or shame. Acknowledging problems, weaknesses, and failures should never cross over into accepting them, much less praising them.
So many of those who criticize “ableism” are acting in bad faith. Affluent and powerful writers proudly recite their supposed “mental disorders” as if it exempts them from criticism. This isn’t a rebellion against oppression. It’s a weaponized morality they are using to protect their elite status.
“Only the inferior strive for equality- those seeking to make more of themselves are not interested in the concept of egalitarianism or ‘fairness,’ and reject that as a childish notion,” wrote Paul Waggener. “In this life, we will have either what we can attain and hold for ourselves, or what those stronger than we are decide to allow us.” The worst part about our present condition is that those who have power over us justify it by claiming weakness.
But weakness is more than a political pose. It’s a brutal, crushing reality we all confront as we age. Yet the reality of weakness and death doesn’t negate the value of strength and life. A healthy (unless that word too is “ableist”) society values beauty, creation, and production. Ugliness, destruction, and decay exist, but to praise these forces is to deny life.
This isn’t do say that pain can’t have value. Nietzsche suffered from debilitating headaches from the time he was a child. Obviously, if there was a cure, he probably would have taken it. Yet without that pain and that experience, he may not have been driven to philosophize with a hammer.
Those who are chronically ill or dying can still serve life. There’s something heroic about those who risk dangerous treatments to provide information that will help others. Yet even this is an act of defiance against death. Pain is justified if it is a spur to accomplishment.
Even in defeat, we recognize strength and dignity. Think of sculptures like “The Dying Gaul” or “The Lion Monument” to the Swiss Guard. Contrast that to the “art” of today that serves to deconstruct the very idea of beauty, like a banana duct-taped to a wall that recently sold for $120,000. The former achievements will last forever. The latter will simply be a historical footnote about an embarrassing age of decline.
Strength, power, accomplishment – these things outlast any individual’s life. Weakness, defeat, petty scheming – these are rightfully forgotten.
In a larger sense, it’s the awareness of oncoming death that drives us all forward to greatness, to grow strong while we still can, to seek beauty while we have the chance, to risk death when we still have life. As countless books, films and poems have pointed out, if we had bodily immorality, we might even yearn for death simply out of boredom.
Perhaps one day our descendants will confront that problem. But we won’t. Death is coming for you, inevitable and inexorable. Your body is decaying, your cells collapsing into entropy. How will you respond? Not even today is guaranteed.
Don’t beg for “equality” – in the physical sense, we’ll all be equal when we’re dead. You’ll get your egalitarianism soon enough. What will do you to serve life? What will you do to build something beyond yourself?
In creation, in combat, at the gym… defy pain, sickness, and ugliness. Fight with every ounce of strength against entropy and despair. Endure. Be remembered as a hero, not as an object of pity. And when King Death comes for you, sneer in triumph because you built something beautiful that outlasts even Him.