On Modern Thinking: ‘We Shall Live Forever’
Above all things we have begun to fear death and the dead. If we hear of someone dying we avoid writing to the family or visiting them: we don’t know what to say about it, about death. We’re ashamed even to mention a cemetery seriously. You wouldn’t tell them at work that “I can’t come in on Sunday, I have to go and visit my people in the cemetery.” What sort of nonsense is that — visiting people who can’t share a meal?
At one time they used to go round our cemeteries on Sundays singing joyously and swinging sweet-smelling censers. The heart was at peace, and the scar which inevitable death had left on it throbbed less painfully. It was as though the dead were looking at us from under their little green mounds with a little smile and saying: “Never mind! Never mind!”
But nowadays, if the cemetery is kept up at all, there are notice-boards saying: “You are liable to a fine if you fail to remove last year’s litter!”….
…Get lost, you pests, under your painted wooden obelisks….let us get on with living.
Because we’re going to live forever.
This is the peak of our 20th-century philosophy.
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, We Shall Live Forever