Death, Life, and the Post Truth Era

Letter to editor of Weekender responding to Jo Randerson's reflection on death and life.

The Editor, The Post Weekender, Wellington

15 January, 2018

Dear Editor:

Jo Randerson’s personal reflection on death and life (Weekender, 6 Jan) was especially gratifying in the frank description of the societal / global death threats of nuclear weapons and climate change. A person’s understanding of individual mortality is integrated with that of the possible mortality of the human species. The former incorporates psychology while the latter more sociology and culture.

This has always been the case, but there has been a shift in importance of the two as the planetary threats of nuclear weapons and climate change come centre stage elbowing ahead of the individual.

Anthropologist Jared Diamond has studied past societies and discovered that when confronted with existential threats they will choose either to change and survive or decide it is more important to retain the old and die off with it. Randerson can observe that individuals might seem paralysed, but we also should see that a growing culture-wide fear that the change needed to survive is fundamental, and possibly unacceptable, is what has led us to denial in the Post Truth Era.

Richard Keller


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