We’ll surely be remembered when we die because, barring some catastrophe, there will still be people alive who remember and, hopefully, miss us. But what about when they die and when those that loved and mourned for them die? When our names are on headstones and we are only found in the databases of ancestry.com, will our lives matter? John Green’s characters debate the necessity of leaving a legacy or leaving this earth quietly, hurting as few as possible with your departure from personhood. But does it really matter? The love ones will mourn then the loved one, too, will die. And it’s a chain of screaming and gnashing of teeth that will carry from generation to generation. Even those that leave legacies, good or bad, will some day be forgotten. Someday, the human race will extinguish itself like a flame doused in water. The birds and the beasts (or, perhaps, just the cockroaches) won’t remember Joan of Arc, Anne Frank, Hitler, Churchill. Will it matter that we do now?
I end with a quote from Dead Poets’ Society:
Further question: What happens when the play ends?