There’s a very simple reason why people make the trek to Katmandu, Nepal, and stage at Advance Base Camp for two weeks, thickening their red blood cells to climb the highest promontory on the planet.
Because accomplishment requires resistance. And climbing Mount Everest is perhaps the greatest icon for such a concept.
That might not seem like any kind of revelatory comment, and really, by itself, isn’t at all. But take the idea a little deeper, and the debate can rage quite fervently; man is a fallen creature, and the entropic, 2nd Law of Thermodynamics really does seem to apply to some other Law of Human Dynamics: It is easier, more thrilling, and prone to a short-term thrill to go downhill.
No one has ever gained recognition on Everest for a decent. But they are remembered for their falls.
Thus, the calculus for the malicious, politicizing, nefarious internet commenter that, instead of trying to foster an empathetic voice in the wake of the disastrous earthquake and subsequent avalanches; those won’t get anyone noticing you. Casting the currently-stranded cache of 150 climbers on the sheer walls of Everest as ‘the rich getting what they deserve’ might gain you your fifteen minutes of anonymous attention. And a few of them not so anonymous.
And granted. Gravity is a hard taskmaster to oppose. The sheer walls of positivity in the face of such high mortality numbers are not only hard to climb, they require careful forethought, reasoned responses to weaknesses and fear, and may not “feel” as if any upward ascent is achieved at all.
Plus, you’re on the wall with a million others, not getting noticed. But that’s the nature of working against gravity: it’s work. And nothing worth having—including the encouragement, support and prayers of those facing that gravitational desire to simply “fall,” is accomplished without an active decision to work against that pull.
It took many, many years to build the Twin Towers. No one really had the time-lapse privilege of standing in one spot, and enjoying watching them go up. But more than a few malignant souls enjoyed—to almost pornographic levels—watching them fall 90 minutes after those planes hit in 2001.
When one argues for a world “free of war, famine, and pain,” they argue for an ideal further up the implied entropic stream; somehow we know there was once something better.
The internet, and its vacuous sea of anonymity, simply gives a free pass for man to fulfill his wildest entropic free-falls. Negativity and cheap shots to those who enjoy no political sympathy in the pundit-camps is the default; It’s easy. It feels witty. It probably gets you a few guffaws from some other cloistered granola camps in the Ivy Leagues.
But it’s still a fall from the heights. And while Icarus’s flaming wings are stealing all the attention in the short term, 5, 000 dead and unnamed Nepalese citizens and their families are languishing in their own real-life anonymity—and have perhaps the greatest, ant-entropic, uphill climb of all.