Infinity // Michael Pierotti

Humans naturally have a fear of the unknown. Space, the afterlife, and infinity are just some of the things that people cannot wrap their heads around. We as a species like to have an answer or information to everything, that is the reason we are so concerned with the infinite, because there is no finite answer to describe them. The same can be said about the question “Where does violence come from?” There is no specific answer that will cover the entire topic of where violence comes from. Philosophers like Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jaques Rousseau looked at the situation too simply. Thomas Hobbes believed that “…in the first place, I put for a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.” (Hobbes 61). Essentially that means that he believes that men are naturally violent. Rousseau on the other hand believes that “Since no man has a natural authority over his fellow, and force creates no right, we must conclude that conventions form the basis of all legitimate authority among men.” (Rousseau 3). That means that he believes that civilization brought violence and men before that were peaceful. However those are both very black and white views on the subject, and like most things, the violence that humanity exhibits is not that. In the current day, people have turned their attention from the natural disposition for humans to be violent or peaceful, to the media. Many cases of school shootings in the past decade have been blamed on violent media, most commonly video games. Whether it be the Columbine shootings that were blamed on the popular video game DOOM (SOURCE) or the Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza who was obsessed with the video game franchise Call of Duty, people try to pin the actions of these people on the media they consume. But when you really think about it, it really couldn’t be that simple. I’m not saying that there is never any cause for the violent acts that they commit, but that the reasons for each case are specific.

Now back to the topic of space. While we as a species fear it, we also admire it greatly. I personally have been fascinated by space since my sophomore year of high school. The fact that it is infinite really intrigues me. There have been nights when I have tried to comprehend the vastness of it and I end up just freaking myself out because of how small and insignificant we are in the universe. For some scale here is a video about the size of earth, that we think of as immense, compared to some other objects in the universe.

Do you feel small after that? Thats alright its a natural reaction. Every time I see that video I get a little frightened, It makes everything that we feel is important so insignificant.

Infinity is a similar concept, I have been puzzled by it ever since it was introduced in my math class in high school. I asked “What is that number?” the teacher replied, “Thats not a number, its infinity. Infinity is so big that we can’t write it in the numbers that we usually write in.” Of course I was intrigued so I researched it a little and still didn’t understand it. I asked my dad about it and he couldn’t explain it either. At that point I just accepted that I would never really understand it and just pushed it to the back of my mind. I was woefully unaware how many times it would pop up in upper levels of math. Every time I see the symbol, I try to understand it, but just like space, I will never be able to fully comprehend it.

Its frightening how small and insignificant these topics can make us feel, you as the reader may be wondering what the point of continuing is if we are essentially nothing in the universe. This is where what I learned from Nick comes in. He taught us this year how to care about certain things. Not just in the ordinary way that you care about a possession, but in a way that you are deeply invested emotionally. We read Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Eating Animals, in which he seemed that he was nearly obsessed with the factory farming system, but in a way that would positively affect the world. This last quarter, we read Dave Cullen’s Columbine which he spent 10 years researching the awful school shooting to write, but he made society more informed and disproved a lot of hoaxes while writing it. What I am taking away from this class is that it doesn’t matter how insignificant you think you are, you can always make a huge difference in society if you care enough.

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