The self-aware man today stands upon the ruins of what he once believed to be a worthwhile society. Where once he dreamed and desired, his basic ambitions have been distorted beyond recognition and then used against him to drag him beneath the rubble. His simple idea of a family has been corrupted. No longer can he entertain that dangerous thought without consciously facing the reality that he will likely be destroyed by those he holds dearest. Despite his heroic efforts to maintain order and stability, his partner is incentivised to rip apart the foundations for short term gains and a lifetime of enslavement on behalf of the now self-aware man. If by some failure of logic and observation the man decides to play that dangerous game once more, his life is destined to be ripped away from him as he is dragged far beneath the ruins where only cynicism remains.
Down beneath that rubble, where hopes and dreams lay and cynicism takes root, it’s long tendrils stretch out to brush against a man on the surface of the ruins, scrounging around for scraps of what used to be so that he may try and achieve some semblance of a purpose that has long since left his kind. Try as he might, anything of value he finds will return once more to the ruins because nothing can grow there. The decay of the decadence pollutes the environment in which anything of value might be found, and so it is corrupted simply by being among the ruins.
And so man finds himself in a precarious and curious place among the ruins. While he has lost much there, what he does upon where he stands can determine his purpose, unlike those lost in the depths of decay.
Any man of sentiment will naturally mourn what he gazes upon: a society that was once proud, productive, and prosperous. Not without faults or falsehoods, but of a common purpose. To replace this, a collection of lies that spurned the weaker sex to set the foundations ablaze out of spite, to destroy it for its own sake as a child throws a tantrum. The men who stood by as the torch was passed to her instead of him are just as guilty of the weakening of the foundations that have been built across generations.
How can a man not mourn the passing of something so great? It was pure potential incarnate, and it was squandered at the behest of those who would never dream of utilizing it to even half of its potential. And so the man mourns what lays before him and wishes to return to days of yore, but this is not his fate. To lament the passing of something is temporary, and he should not be consumed in his grief lest he loses himself in it.
This great sadness naturally leads to anger. Anger towards those who exist among the ruins, ignorant of the decay around them and those who actively destroy what little remains, anger at how it was allowed to happen in the first place, and anger at what he feels was robbed of him. He will find in time, hopefully sooner rather than later, that this is as futile as searching for something of value that is untainted by what lies around it.
Not everything he will come across will be debased and foul, though much will be. When he does find something that sparks that glimmer of hope deep within him, that part yearning for the traditional purpose he originally sought, he will be faced with one of his greatest tests. Will he be strong enough to understand the sad yet vital truth that this value is corrupted by the nature of its environment, no matter the strength of it on its own, or will he be fooled as so many wandering men among the ruins who came before him and strive in vain to preserve this value he has gathered from the wreckage, only to be pulled beneath the surface and entrapped by his own ambitions and hubris?
Entertain whatever he can find among the ruins as he comes across it, but it is by no means the ending point of his voyage across the wasteland. No, he is destined to survive here, and with a little perseverance, he can even thrive, but he will have to learn to adapt to the new climate. No longer can he rely on the old foundations to support him and his dreams and desires. Instead, he will have to rebuild those foundations himself.
As he toils away building his castle among the ruins, bystanders will stop and admire his efforts, in awe at his dedication in the face of such meaninglessness. They may stop and think “how can something grow out of his sewage we find ourselves in”, and just as quickly as the reflection comes to them, it leaves them to be replaced by jealousy, resentment, and hate. Some may band together to besiege this castle, but the very act of rebuilding the foundations has made his fortifications immune to such pettiness and cowardice.
From atop his tower, he looks down upon these people who would have kept him down there among the ruins if he followed them and feels pride in his decision to take the risk of leaving the group to build something for himself. It may not be what he originally desired, and it may not replace that yearning for what came before, but it’s better than anything to be found on the blasted surface, and certainly better than the terrible fate that awaits the men below, pulled in to the depths of the aimless void of suffering for men who could not adapt.
From his position of strength, he can begin to venture out once more, knowing that he has a retreat and a purpose instead of wandering aimlessly in the wasteland. Now, he may begin to notice other constructs being erected around him, symbols of resistance against the encroaching lethargy and a resurgence of hope that he once thought lost.