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It is said that at the beginning of the most recent cycle of existence, The lives of human beings were very long.  Fifty thousand, one-hundred thousand years.  In fact, some way we were immortal, people only died because they chose to die.  Long life is a sign of virtue and people were very virtuous so life continued happily and easily for many aeons.
Then, one day, someone stole something.  I don't know what or why or even while the action was considered "theft."  But people acted as though it were a problem that had to be fixed.  A solution was developed that satisfied all -- the "victim" the "perpetrator" and the  communty.  And life went on for more aeons.  Then another theft occurred, and this  time the theif was punished, i don't know how severely or by what means, but he was punished.  "Suddenly (in fifty thousand years or so), people noticed that they were no longer living as long as their ancestors had. but were dying in twenty thousand years, longevity had been shortened by more than half!  We were apparently no longer quite so virtuous.

Twenty thousand years is still a very long time so we soon (after a few aeons) got used to it and life went on, not quite so happily  or simply, but pretty much.  Then someone killed somebody.  Again, i don't know who or why or how.  Again the community saw a problem and set out to resolve it in a way that satisfied everybody.  Life went on as before.  Then a killing occurred which was not resolved in the usual way and a "perpetrator was punished.  Suddenly longevity was shorted to ten thousand years.

This process continued, but at a  faster pace since people were now dying faster.  The cycle of: life, problem, solution, no change, problem, punishment, shortened life, continued  over and over until now longevity is only 120.  If we continue to punish individuals for our problems, the cycles  will  continue.  And there are not many left, the next time we define a problem as a crime and try to solve it  by punishment, longevity may be cut to 60 years, then 30, then 15, then 7.  Can we survive when the oldest people in the world are fifteen years old? seven? four? two?  Can we survive without virtue?



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