The Lucky Ones

Richard Dawkins has stated on many occasions that this is the passage that shall be read at his funeral. I can estimate that, despite the great loss that humanity might feel in the passing of his fearsome intellect from service to our species’ incoming dilemmas, there will not be a wet eye in the house after this is read: only pure appreciation, amazement, even — perhaps — a knowing smirk or two:

Since the typeface on this graphic makes it so hard to read (perhaps especially if you encounter this blog on a phone), I reproduce it here:

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?

Unweaving the Rainbow (1998)

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