On the Scarcity of Passion & the Need to Share It


Passion should become the cornerstone of human existence.(Courtesy of Instagram)

John Wenz, Contributing Writer

Three recent events are on my mind. The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, a train derailment in Ohio and an earthquake in Turkey. The full span of human tragedy in three items: wickedness, error and natural occurrence. In keeping up with the news, one is beckoned to retreat from the greater world and back into the comfort of a passionless, even misanthropic life. Paralyzed by a fear of the world, many will turn away from the life their heart is leading them to and remain stagnant consumers. This is a great tragedy, the life of intake and exhaust, of leaving the world emptier than you found it.

The body is a crude vessel for a mind condemned to wither away, but these are the engines of the splendid light of your consciousness. Your life is a precious gift, and in a sense, you are free to do with it as you please. But the delicate transience of this gift and the reality that it was wasted and ruined for countless, by no fault of their own, has burdened you with a great debt to yourself and your neighbors, much more than most will ever repay. You are categorically obligated to live a brilliant life, and all the time we spend chasing our tails and groveling in cynicism is a gross repudiation of the gift of a brief time to spend in this world.

Unfortunately, much of what we fill our days with is without any true end. Listen for a moment. Don’t you feel the unrest within you? Do not extinguish it with idle pleasures or regard it as an illness to be treated — cultivate it. It is your own spirit speaking to you, because you are the miraculous result of perhaps the work of an intelligent creator or else the arbitrary collision of particles. It is your own voice guiding you. There lies a fire in everyone’s chest but it can too easily be starved by despair.

How do we conquer despair? First we must start from nothing. Suppose there is nothing greater than us, and our universe is cold and chaotic. What is to be done then? To put it as Camus did, revolt. Create a display of the human spirit in the face of futility. Show yourself and us all that you are not shaken by the prospect of an absurd and wicked world, or the constant risk of death or reality of decay. Do not deny these things but look upon them and live with boldness and passion in spite of them. There is nothing else to do! I would rather die with a vision of what I almost had, what could have been, than with a mind so empty and stifled by the incessant pessimism and shameful displays of spiritual opulence in our world. Float above these things. Do it for your own sake and as a testament to the movement of every particle that put the breath of life in you and your forebears and everyone else who has ever lived. Whether this movement was guided by a divine hand or not, this is the glory of the human life.

The next imperative is to reject fear of terrible occurrences. When such an earthquake as the recent one in Turkey kills tens of thousands like nothing at all, you are reminded of how easily your life can be taken away. You may spend your entire life cultivating virtue only to have everything torn from you. You may be days away from completing your masterpiece only to be hit by a bus. Do not allow this idle fear to paralyze you as it does so many — is this not part of the thrilling gamble of living? Life is not for the faint of heart! Countless generations of people before you fought through violent conflict, pestilence and spiritual decay, certain of their own mortality, perhaps without hope for anything better, and continued to live and procreate. The courage of your ancestors resulted in your own miraculous and unthinkably improbable existence. Do not allow yourself to squander what has been passed down to you from many hands.

It is indeed a precious gift. Remember that every act of cowardice — and you always know in your heart the difference between cowardice and prudence — is a betrayal and repudiation of this gift. You must chase the vision that you have for a better reality with wild eyes and never allow yourself to be deterred from it. There is so much ugliness and bitterness in this world, so much senseless cruelty, and yet there is light in every one of us. You are capable of wondrous things because you are just as much of a human as anyone else who ever was.

When met with the prospect of Camus’s absurdity, which everyone is at one point or another in their life, the ultimate display of human courage is the act of creation precisely because it denies absurdity. Be it the creation of art, a family or a brilliant life. Even with the suspicion that all I build will be torn down, all things I create negated and extinguished completely upon my death and the eventual destruction of the world, I will build it anyway. I know that everything I do will die, but still I persist. I work to better the lives of others though there are endless more who suffer. I struggle for every instance of beauty I can bring into this world.

Seize control of your life because no one else can. Countless people, particularly the youth, are paralyzed because they have been convinced that they are impotent. Not so! You are a human, and to be human is to struggle for a better life if for nothing else than its own sake. To do the alternative, to retreat back into sedation each time you arise from it, is to betray whatever imbued you with the breath of life. Cultivate your strength and your beauty, and spread it throughout the world.

John Wenz, FCRH ’26, is undeclared from West Hartford, Conn.