When considering the issue of immortality and living on forever, this has been a constant desire for some of the greatest men and women in world history. It has been seen all around us, including in the last two American elections where the first black president was elected and re-elected. It was also present in historical times through aspects such as the codification of Hammurabi law and individuals quests for timelessness. This paper seeks to prove that the search for immortality has always been a part of the human social interactions.
Boundaries, old age and imagination have always been part of the human existence, forming some of the most interesting topics. Scholars and philosophers such as Plato have given their opinions about these phenomena, speaking of religious beliefs such as life after death and the leaving of a legacy. When one considers ancient manuscripts and their value, one derives that such value comes from the aspect of timelessness that they carry. Being able to transcend the effect of time has thus been one of the greatest goals of a man (Atkinson and Silverman). The scripts of Hammurabis law provide ways in which a man could transcend time. Today, almost all religious books speak of an afterlife where, depending on ones deeds and actions on the earth, they can enjoy an eternity of glory (or pain) (Jacobsen and Davies).
Depending on the personal point of view, one could say that the quest for immortality is an essentially selfish claim. Hammurabi, for example, was perhaps the most clever politician there was at the time. Being king, he made a set of God-given laws, which although were quite famous, were not the oldest set of deity-inspired laws. The leader was the sixth leader of Babylon, the greatest kingdom of its time on the earth ruling in over one hundred and twenty seven provinces. Yet, Hammurabi was aware of the wasteful effect that history would have if he did nothing to have his name last in the history books forever. Thus, the inception of Hammurabis law.
Hammurabis law might have had a huge part of self-glorification as the man introduces himself as one named by the gods, for among other things, protection of the poor against the strong and the venerator of the gods. As such, the theme of self-glorification in search of immortality pops up immediately. Although the man had pure intentions, he describes himself as pious and being in the position of a prince in the time, it is hard to bring about another picture.
Furthermore, the Hammurabis law is not the oldest law of the land. His famous position gave this particular set of laws the status they enjoy till date. There were two other laws present, which were taken with more seriousness than Hammurabis code during that day. These were the Laws of Ur-namma and Lipit-Itshar laws. Interestingly, these were laws that tackeld different aspects of living, although not in topical provisions. Nonetheless, Hammurabis law overtook these two and became the single most powerful legal instrument of the time and remains relevant to date.
One may ask the motivation behind having immortality in a world that quickly forgets what one has done in the past and embraces new achievements. For example, nobody may remember the basic computer principle named GIGO (garbage in, garbage out), but someone will most definitely remember Bill Gates or Steve Jobs contribution to the information technology world. This is because the world of ever-changing innovation requires that the memory of ones achievement remain fresh in the minds of people throughout generations. For example, Thomas Edison receives silent credits every time a person switches on a lightbulb. However, the person who innovated to create adjustable lamps and light circuitry is rarely forgotten.
The human nature therefore craves to outdo each other in a bid to gain better remembrance in the eyes of future generations. Hilary Clintons election bid would have been historical if successful since it would have resounded throughout history that she was the first female American president. Nevertheless, history was already made by another when Barrack Obama became the first black president of the United States. This parallel can be drawn to Hammurabis law and the intention behind his diligence to have the laws written. Hammurabi was a warlord who focused on ensuring that his kingdom would be the greatest on the earth something that would earn him some piece of immortality. However, this was not enough as people needed to remember him by something more than the size of his army or the terror of his horses.
The Hammurabis code provided him with the avenue required to express himself throughout history even after the disintegration of his empire. The king wrote various laws that would guide individuals, which were discovered in the twentieth century despite the passage of time. Hammurabis existence was therefore not wiped out entirely. In the same vein, people in various fields today struggle for the taste of immortality pending inevitable physical death. Music artists name themselves god, do publicity stunts, and engage in eye-catching, and sometimes outrageous, activities in order to become memorable in the eyes of people. Artists draw and create very innovative pieces in pursuit of becoming the next Leonardo da Vinci. So many things are done to trigger the remembrance of individuals.
Nonetheless, one aspect of immortality remains outstanding, which many people in todays society may not have considered. As was in the case in Hammurabis law, the story of Jesus Christ, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs and so many others, legends are made and remembered after their death. It would therefore be foolhardy to compete against the memory of one whose immortality is established by death. For example, it would be extremely difficult to compete with Michael Jackson. Nonetheless, ones strong contribution to changing and impacting the world remains with those impacted through generations, depending on ones impact on the world. In exceptional cases, ones impact is felt through the lifetime of the individual.
Therefore, one can adequately summarize that the human life is often dictated by a need to make a difference and be known for generations after oneself. The pharaohs who built the pyramids of Giza had this in mind. It can, therefore, be asserted that the human race has a socio-cultural need that revolves around the creation of a sense of immortality.
Atkinson, Paul and David Silverman. "Kundera's Immortality: The interview society and the invention of the self." Qualitative inquiry 3.3 (1997): 304-325.
Jacobsen, Michael Hviid and Douglas J. Davies. "Sociology, mortality and solidarity. An Interview with Zygmunt Bauman on death, dying and immortality." Mortality 16.4 (2001): 380-393.
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