My Grandmother, The iPod

Facebook, I think, is the best way to tell the ones you know and love, or at least those you met once at a thing somewhere, how you truly feel, all in one fell swoop.

I do it all the time. It’s quite cathartic, actually. I also enjoy reading the musings of others, and recently a Facebook friend of mine, who also happens to be a family member, posted something that caught my attention.

Without directly quoting, it was something of an indictment on the blatant consumeristic frenzy that is Christmas, the way people turn into brutal savages, hunting down close parking spots and red-tag bargains.

My cousin pointed out that in 40 years people aren’t going to be thinking about the gifts they bought or received, rather the family members that have passed, or the moments that they wish could be relived.

I could not agree more. When some nut whacks a person in the face for the last copy of Transformers 2 on DVD, there is a problem. I mean, that movie sucked. And every year someone is getting trampled in the foyer of a store, or getting sideswiped for a parking spot. It’s disgusting.

“I want to show my family that I truly love them. I’ll do whatever it takes to buy them the perfect gift, even if that means shanking some fool in the line at Wal-Mart.”

Come on people.

As I thought further about the post, something else hit me. An underlying viewpoint came to the surface. My cousin is an Atheist. What does that have to do with anything? Nothing really, except for the context of the post itself. Going crazy over “stuff” is ridiculous.

Cussing people out over things that are going to break, wear out, or become obsolete is pointless. I remember begging my parents for gifts that I “had to have,” only to forget about them weeks later. What matters is family and friendship, people to share your life with.

But what are people? From an atheistic standpoint, at the end of the day, people are simply the result of spontaneous evolution, a collection of cells that have joined to make up what we now know as humans, the greater apes.

There is no creator. No intelligent design. Just billions of years of evolution at work.

Boiled down, we are products. Products of an evolutionary process. The “love” that we feel for one another is no more than chemical reaction, the way we have learned to respond.

In a way, we are consumers of one another. Time spent together, family parties, romantic evenings are just how we consume the product. Right?

Forty years from now my ipod is going to be an ancient artifact. My car will belong in a museum, my clothes long gone moth food. But what about my Grandma? If there is nothing after all this, if we are but a link on the evolutionary chain, does she really matter once she expires?

She was here. It was fun while it lasted and we will all sure miss her, but when she’s gone that’s it. She’ll go back to the earth she evolved from.

Does that sound right? Why doesn’t that sit well? Why does my comparing my Grandmother to an mp3 player make me sick to my stomach? I think it’s because we know better than that. I think deep down we know there is something more to this human experience.

It’s insane to clamor and fight over consumer goods that only bring temporary fulfillment.

But if we are just animals with an expiration date, evolutionary products to be consumed, isn’t it equally ridiculous to fight for love? Isn’t it a waste of time and money to develop medicines that cure disease and prolong life? Why cry at funerals? Every product has a shelf life, right? Are we any better?

I think so. I think you do too.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Photo Credit: lifeshots (Creative Commons)

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