Jean-Paul Sartre once said that hell is other people. Beyond the many efforts by philosophers to explain away what appears to be a bit of misanthropy, he’s absolutely right.
Their explanations—right or wrong—don’t really mean anything with such a simple declaration. “Put it in context of the play it appears in!” they shriek.
Nah. I don’t think I will. Hell is other people. Period.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we are living in the nastiest age in human history. It’s by far the most destructive, the most ignorant, the most apathetic, the most indifferent. Most people lumber and ooze through their consuming days utterly without spirit, without soul, without love, without decency. Just look around if you want proof. But you won’t do that, because to do that, you’ll need to take the blinkers off of your rose-colored glasses.
I strongly believe in the soul. I believe it’s our job while alive to be born to true maturity, true adulthood, before death. Granted that you do that, you get another life after you’ve breathed your last here.
It doesn’t require belief in some savior, or to belong to some religion or other. Both of those are too provincial, too middle-school, to be anywhere near the truth. It requires great, sustained, relevant effort. It requires untrammeled spiritual sight. It requires rigorous inquiry, profound courage, and deep faith.
Hell is other people. And those fuckers are waddling through their days totally indifferent to the state of the planet. I see it every single day, both in real life and here, on the Internet. The endless mindless distractions, the chasing after fame and fortune, the herd behavior, the violence, the destruction, the greed.
As a result, we’re pretty much fucked at this point. These climate emergencies are going to get worse, and then worse still. This world is, quite rapidly, becoming hell. And we had every opportunity to stop it, to change our ways, to grow up. But we refused.
Regardless of the context that Sartre meant it in his play, were he alive today, I am certain that he’d say it in the plainest context available, and with great outrage.
Hell is other people.