On the Preachers of Death

There are preachers of death; and the earth is full of those to whom one must preach renunciation of life. The earth is full of the superfluous; life is spoiled by the all-too-many. May they be lured from this life with the “eternal life”! Yellow the preachers of death wear, or black. But I want to show them to you in still other colors.

There are the terrible ones who carry around within themselves the beast of prey and have no choice but lust or self-laceration. And even their lust is still self-laceration. They have not even become human beings yet, these terrible ones: let them preach renunciation of life and pass away themselves!

There are those with consumption of the soul: hardly are they born when they begin to die and to long for doctrines of weariness and renunciation. They would like to be dead, and we should welcome their wish. Let us beware of waking the dead and disturbing these living coffins!

They encounter a sick man or an old man or a corpse, and immediately they say, “Life is refuted.” But only they themselves are refuted, and their eyes, which see only this one face of existence. Shrouded in thick melancholy and eager for the little accidents that bring death, thus they wait with clenched teeth. Or they reach for sweets while mocking their own childishness; they clutch the straw of their life and mock that they still clutch a straw. Their wisdom says, “A fool who stays alive – but such fools are we. And this is surely the most foolish thing about life.”

“Life is only suffering,” others say, and do not lie: see to it, then, that you cease! See to it, then, that the life which is only suffering ceases!

And let this be the doctrine of your virtue: “Thou shalt kill thyself! Thou shalt steal away!”

“Lust is sin,” says one group that preaches death; “let us step aside and beget no children.”

“Giving birth is troublesome,” says another group; “why go on giving birth? One bears only unfortunates!”

And they too are preachers of death.

“Pity is needed,” says the third group. “Take from me what I have! Take from me what I am! Life will bind me that much less!”

If they were full of pity through and through, they would make life insufferable for their neighbors. To be evil, that would be their real goodness. But they want to get out of life: what do they care that with their chains and presents they bind others still more tightly?

And, you, too, for whome life is furious work and unrest – are you not very weary of life? Are you not very ripe for the preaching of death? All of you to whome furious work is dear, and whatever is fast, new, and strange – you find it hard to bear yourselves; your industry is escape and the will to forget yourselves. If you believed more in life you would fling yourselves less to the moment. But you do not have contents enough in yourselves for waiting – and not even for idleness.

Everywhere the voice of those who preach death is heard; and the earth is full of those to whom one must preach death. Or “eternal life” – that is the same to me, if only they pass away quickly.

Thus spoke Zarathustra.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

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