Every day is the last

tl;dr – Defeat it likely. Death is certain. Fight anyway and always.

Are you familiar with “Ragnarok?” It pops up fairly regularly in the contemporary fiction zeitgeist. There’s an upcoming Thor film subtitled “Ragnarok.” It also features heavily in Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods,” and there’s at least one manga series titled “Ragnarok.” Etc. It’s a cool word, so it gets around.

Originally “Ragnarok” was a story from the old Norse mythic tradition. For my money, it’s the single best piece of European mythology. Translating to “Fate of the God,” “Doom of the Gods,” or “Twilight of the Gods,” Ragnarok is a sort of end-times tale. But it isn’t end-times in the Christian sense, with the defeat of evil and the arrival of paradise. Rather, it aims to show the end of the current order, to show how this world ends and the next world begins.

And it’s pretty fucking badass. Ragnarok is a right, proper apocalypse. Almost all the gods die in battle. Almost all of humanity gets wiped out in a world-spanning conflagration. Fenris, the great wolf, consumes the sun and the moon. Yggdrasil, the world-tree, whose branches contain the very cosmos, is lit aflame. Two people and two gods make it through that shit alive, and so a new world begins.

Nontrivially epic

Nontrivially epic

All of that, obviously, is awesome on its own. Here’s that part that really tickles me, though; everyone knows how Ragnarok is going to play out before it even begins. The gods know they’re going to die. They know who is going to kill them and how. They know that, by the end, there will be nothing left of them, of their home, of all their joys and sorrows and triumphs and losses. But they fight anyway. They know the story of their own demise, and they don’t shrink from it. When someone comes to your home, aiming to hurt you and yours, you pick up a weapon and fight. That is simply what one does.

It couldn’t have been intended as such, but I take Ragnarok as a kind of pre-existentialist fable. It holds up the terrible end of all things and says “This will happen. You cannot prevent it.” The subjects of the fable, the gods and their allies, nod their heads and respond, “Okay. Then we will go out to fight and die. There is nothing else.” They don’t despair of the dying because the fight must happen, because, in the face the enemy, there is nothing to do but fight.

For the next two years, at minimum, the enemies of human progress and well being have all the weapons in our fight. The federal Executive and Legislative branches will be under Republican control in two months. Not long thereafter, they will almost certainly control the Supreme Court. An overwhelming number of state legislative houses and governor’s mansions are already under Republican control. Ditto for far too many municipal governments.

This is the stage, as I understand it, for our fight. And people are going to die. Too many people were going to die under a Clinton presidency. Under a Trump presidency, the number only gets worse, and it comes with the added bonus of increased institutionalized terror against black and brown folks, non-white immigrants, Muslims, queer folks, women, and basically anyone who dissents to our white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy. People are going to die, and they’re going to die regardless of whether or how we fight. That’s a victory for human evil. Every time a Muslim is afraid to leave their house, every time a trans kid commits suicide because they can stand the torture of their daily life, every time a black person is murdered because someone fears their skin, every time a woman suffers violation to her person because further resistance might have even worse consequences, that’s a victory for human evil.

Evil wins often, predictably, and with terrible effect. And, in so many ways, in the most immediate, important ways, our task must be to prevent that evil. But we can’t. Or we won’t. As a matter of volume and logistics, evil will win over and over again. Our fight can’t be predicated on continuous, complete victory over human evil. But me must fight knowing that every second of resistance is its own victory. Every moment we fight, every moment we make space, or give comfort, or confirm our love for each other, especially for the most vulnerable, we have done the most worthwhile thing. Obviously, the ideal is to overcome the evil amassed against us. Even when that’s impossible, though, we’ve nothing else to do but put our bodies in the way of evil. We’ve nothing else to do but to pick up a weapon and put ourselves between the evil coming toward us and the most vulnerable among us. That’s it. That isn’t the means to an end. That is the unending entirety of our lives and every life that comes after us.

Or, take it from this angle. In about 5 billion years, the Sun will being to expand into a red giant star. At its maximum size, it will envelop Mercury, Venus, and likely Earth, burning those planets to cinder. And long before that happens, Earth will become completely inhospitable to life as we know it. In that time, if there are still creatures like us on Earth, they will see the end coming. They will live on a planet increasingly hostile to their very existence, and they will know that there is no solution. They will live in a time when the end of all things is not merely hypothetical, but immediate, palpable, and real. In that time, the kindness, comfort, and love shared between those creatures will be just as vital and valuable as the kindness, comfort, and love we share with each other now. The inevitability of defeat and demise does not diminish the value of our love toward each other. The inevitability of defeat and demise is irrelevant to our love toward each other. Love and kindness and comfort and the fleeting connection between similar minds are the basis for caring about any of this, for there being anything worth doing in this ridiculous shitshow.

So, love everyone you can as hard as you can. Expand the circle of who you love, who you’re willing to love. Understand how the people you love are vulnerable. Love them because they’re vulnerable. And if someone tries to fuck with the people you love, take that piece of shit to the ground and bite their fucking face off.

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