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Let me explain this.

We now know how old the universe is (between 13.772 and 13.82 billion years), we know its geometry (it is flat, with a 0.04% margin of error) and we know that it will continue to expand, if not accelerate, infinitely. This also means that after an unimaginably long time from now, the universe will suffer what is known as a heat death, meaning that extremely low to zero levels of energy will be present, and life will not be possible.

This means that it is the nature of the universe we now know to break down, to slowly but surely move to lower and lower levels of energy, ‘til no further expenditure of energy is possible. This breakdown is random, mindless and chaotic and has no meaning.

In my opinion, philosophically speaking, that means that the natural endpoint of all living things is to be broken down to the point of death. To be somewhat dramatic, the universe does not care about us and it is its nature to grind us down from the moment we are born to the point of our death.

Let me use two recent human catastrophes to show you how it pertains to all of us. In 1931, a series of the Yangtze-Huai River flooding its banks caused the death of up to 4 million people. In 2004, the Boxing Day tsunami resulting from an earthquake below the Indian Ocean, caused the death of approximately 228,000 people.

The farmers who lived and worked on the banks of the Yangtze have been living there working there for untold generations. They were not singled out as the generation to take out; they did nothing wrong to have this happen to them. The vacationers who saved up for a beach holiday in Thailand had no plan to have anything else but a wonderful vacation. They were not deficient in their planning; they could not have known.

“Alright”, you say, “I can see how that large scale natural disaster is heartbreakingly tragic, but not personal. I see your point that that trauma can be connected to your point about the universe breaking down. But what about a friend who hurts my feelings by gossiping behind my back?”

If we use deductive reasoning (which is one of the main two types of reasoning) we can connect a known premise—that the universe is running down, randomly and haphazardly—with another known one—that as individuals we are, along with our relationships, inescapably part of the universe—we can reasonably and accurately conclude that it is the natural state of our relationships that they will break down haphazardly, peter and self-implode. It is therefore the nature of relationships, that without significant effort and ongoing work to rebuild it, they will suffer from breakdown, and that as humans we will experience that as bad things happening between us.

If we assimilate this fact, then we know that to waste time getting mad at our friend because we take it personally does not make any sense; it is simply a symptom of maximum entropy, of the world winding down.

In other words, our friend who gossiped behind our back would have gossiped behind the back of whoever their friend was. The gossip simply is a mechanism by which the universe breaks down that friend’s relationships, and in time, the quality of that friend’s and their friends lives.

If we take neither life event injuries or wounds perpetrated upon us by other as directed at us, then slowly we become stronger and more fearless to tackle the mindless, everyday damage, building up a better defense against the inexorable badness of a mindless universe in which we find ourselves.

More about that next time, when we move on to the next Pillar upholding our healthy, ever-improving relationships.

Dr. Strauss l Wellness Lead
Follow me on Twitter @DrPieterStrauss