Article Information

Author: Scott Schiffmacher
Date Written: 07.02.03

Death is a Waste.. Of Space

The 605 South was closed on Sunday around 3pm or 4pm due to a truck full of nitric acid burning on the side of the freeway. So I had to take an alternate route home from hell. I ended up driving past Rose Hills. As I was going past, I noticed that the freaking place is huge. I also realised what massive amounts of time, energy and resources we expend building and maintaining places and shrines for the dead. I came to be of the opinion that hot Sunday afternoon that it is a colossal waste of time. As far as practicality goes, the spaces we reserve for the dead, which according to the estimations of Peter and me are 1,000 sq miles or so, is a ridiculous amount of space. What do we really need it for anyway? It may offend many of the people today to suggest that we do something with our dead other than bury them, but it needs to be said. I personally decided, while looking at the cemetery in the hot afternoon sun that I don't want to be buried. Burn me or something. Make me fertilizer for animal feed crops. Let me do something useful. The only part of me that matters after I'm dead is contained within the minds of the people I knew anyway.

I'd also like to answer the argument that people as a whole are not ready for such a step, that we need the dead around as much for our own mental health as any reverence we give them. And I believe that it is true for some people today. But if we continue to go on building shrines and using up space for the physical remnants of the dead, will these people ever grow? Or will they just breed a whole new generation with the same emotional dependency on expending emotional and physical energy building monuments to people who no longer physically exist.

A thought also occurs to me that if we stop making places for the dead, we should also stop building monuments to other mental constructions, such as ideals. But this isn't quite the same thing. Human minds, for all the vast power they have, are still relatively weak at present. Wee see an ideal, we believe in it, but if we don't see some positive results that tell us we're at least on the way to realizing that ideal, we falter. (There are those amongst us who can strive for an ideal all their lives, knowing they will never see it realized with their own eyes, but they are sadly in the minority). I believe that the majority of humanity needs monuments to keep their ideals alive. The same does not translate to the dead though. Billions of people have died, but as depressing as it may sound, not many of them were not capable of representing ideals large enough to inspire the number of people required to make building a monument to them practical.

Thus it is with this that I recommend the end of cemeteries and the beginning of a new type if thought. We do not need the dead, we have them with us. Use their bodies as they once did, to effect change in the world around us. Do not reserve a space in which their body lays there and effectively stops change. Let them continue to do what they are intended to do, what every other species does. Let them remain useful.