Will Clarke

A letter to the people of the world


By the time you read this I’ll be dead. Completely dead. With no chance of suffering.

I’m about to carry out certain actions that you will do doubt find abhorrent. These were not done thoughtlessly or in a fit of passion. I’ve agonised over my decision for longer that you’ll ever know. I’m not mad. I calculated my actions as rational responses to my stimuli. Both selfishly and selflessly, I’m confident that it’s the right thing to do, the most humane thing to do. And yet it’ll still be by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. By far.

I want to give you, the reader, a simple warning. Modern society has thrived by perpetuating certain damaging lies and I’d like a chance to focus on some of these. You have doubtless been primed - through a lifetime of enculturation - to reject my insights, but I’m confident that if you’ll indulge me, you’ll find some hidden grains of truth in what I have to say.

I’m about to euthanize my four children. I don’t mean them any harm. I just want their suffering - and mine - to end.

Five years ago I was in a major traffic accident. The details are unimportant. The moment of impact was the only real experience in my life. My consciousness transcended my earthly body. I saw the world in a way that no meditation, no hallucinogens could. A sliver of brilliance in a dark & brittle universe. I saw pain. I understood pain. I understood my pain. And my ancestors. It was raw.

I instantly understood a profound truth about the human condition. Pain is worse than pleasure is good. It defines us. Pain shapes us. Our evolutionary incentives are for us to reduce pain. We wear shoes so our feet don’t hurt. We live in groups to avoid lonliness. We eat to avoid hunger. We breathe to avoid asphyxiation. It may have been uncomfortable, but it’s turned out to be effective evolutionary strategy.

Pleasure doesn’t exist. It’s merely the absence of pain. Modern philosophy exacerbates it. “Only think positive thoughts”. They hide from reality.

In that instant I understood the human condition, the human consciousness. I understood the genetic heritability of pain. That’s the only real “gift” we pass to our children. So they can suffer and make their children suffer.

Ultimately this is my own suffering. I am responsible for it. I created it. I would experience it - in some form - through my children’s children. When the human race colonises other solar systems this suffering will still exist. It will be magnified.

If I were a braver man I would try to end the suffering of more than just my own children. But I’ll settle for saving my descendants from untold lifetimes of pain.

Now, who’s the monster? How much suffering have you eased today?