When I was in ninth grade a teacher posed this question to our first year rhetoric class: “If you could live forever, being eternally reincarnated and always remembering your previous incarnations, would you?” I was extremely surprised to discover how many of my classmates would turn down this opportunity, saying that all of eternity would make it boring and eventually you would end up running out of options for lives to live and long to be able to truly die. Perhaps my excitement at this concept was due to a failure to fully understand the implications of infinity and eternity, but I like to think it was due more to an abundant curiosity and desire to understand those around me, the same urge that pushed me to learn more about the world through taking on a major in International Studies.
No one person will ever be able to see the whole world. We cannot experience first hand, no matter how hard we try, the lives of every person, and none of us will have the opportunity to practically consider the option my teacher offered (or at least we don’t have the memory that goes with it). We are forced to use what is called in comics terminology “closure,” the assumption of what we cannot see based on what we can or have seen. This can sometimes be dangerous and lead to assumptive understandings of places and people foreign to us as well as, in the most extreme cases, destructive stereotyping. For this reason, I feel we have a duty as citizens of a world with so much information freely available and the stories of so many people accessible to us through media on the internet to understand as much as we can, read as many stories as we can, and do our best to close the gaps with the voices of those who truly live the lives we (probably) won’t have the opportunity to experience.