...and Collecting Ocracoke Island History & Stories.
I hope our readers will bear with me as I share some philosophical ruminations today.
I recently read a review of the book, Death and the Afterlife, by Samuel Scheffler. According to the reviewer, Scheffler "does not believe in any form of personal immortality," but he does understand that "the survival of people after our deaths matters greatly to us."
Scheffler asks his readers to imagine scenarios that would rob us of what he calls a "collective afterlife." In one scenario, every person on Earth suddenly becomes infertile. Although everyone would continue to live to the end of his or her natural life, the human race would eventually die out. What would then matter to us?
I wondered what I would think about collecting and sharing island history and stories. If I learned today that at the end of one hundred and twenty-five years there would be no one left on the planet...and certainly from now on no one would have any real interest in Ocracoke Island history...would I abandon my island research? Of course. What would be the point? I write for future generations as much as for the present.
When I read books and articles of local history collected and written by departed islanders (Alice Rondthaler, Calvin O'Neal, Cecil Bragg, Walter Howard, and others) I often offer them a silent "thank you" for realizing that some of us living today would be grateful for what they saved and preserved during their lifetimes.
Of course, I understand that our sun will eventually burn out (about 5 billion years from now), and that the human race might drive itself to extinction, and that geologic changes in the coast might inundate Ocracoke Island. But those time spans are longer than my human lifetime, and I, like many humans, don't want to think too much about ultimate death, wholesale destruction, and complete annihilation.
So, I continue to collect and preserve Ocracoke Island stories and history. I suppose it's enough for me to think that several more generations, at least, may survive and benefit from my work. In my own way I am celebrating the "collective afterlife" even though I realize even that will not last forever.
In the meantime I am ordering Scheffler's book...and will be reading it between researching Ocracoke Island hsitory.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter
is about the Unionist North Carolina State Government established at
Hatteras in 1861. You can read all about it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092114.htm.