Ancient myths tell of gods deciding they made a mistake in creating humans, and trying to wipe us out. Alas, their efforts were thwarted and now look.
Philosophers have thought about our existence and what it means to planet and people. Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) and Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) wrote that people would be better off not born due to the suffering their lives inevitably entail.
Although many throughout history have likely arrived at this solution, they either didn’t write it down or their words have been lost to us. If you know of historical records or celebrity endorsements of the concept of humans going extinct for the good of planet or people, please share them: Les U. Knight
In modern times, improved communication allows us to realize how often people follow their own path of compassionate reasoning to arrive at virtually the same conclusion.
Kurt Vonnegut [1922-2007] expressed his view of humanity on Bill Maher’s show September 9, 2005:
MAHER: Yeah, you said this in the new book, you said about the planet,
“We could have saved it, but we were just too damn cheap and lazy.”
VONNEGUT: Yes. We are killing the planet as a life support system. And we may have gone so far already that there’s no recovery from it. The game may be over. Just to cheer you up. [chuckles]
MAHER: Right. And would that be a bad thing? Would that be a bad thing? I know you’ve said things like—
VONNEGUT: No, look, I think it’s—I think the earth’s immune system is trying to get rid of us, and it’s high time they did. My goodness, we are a disease on the face of this planet. You know, after two world wars and the Holocaust, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and, well, the Roman games and the Spanish Inquisition, and the burning of women in public squares. It’s time we got out of here, and I ...
MAHER: You left out “The Gong Show.” [laughter]
VONNEGUT: Yeah, but we are a disease on the planet. And I think we ought to become “syphilis with a conscience” and stop reproducing. [laughter] [applause]
MAHER: Well, I’m going to do my part. [laughter] And I know you’ll do yours. Kurt Vonnegut, I thank you very much for making time out to talk to us. And good luck with the book. [applause] [cheers] PDF of transcript.
In 1990, Danielle Dax covered The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” and in the first five seconds of the music video she says, “For the survival of everything else on this world, you know, we should disappear quick... happy!” It’s highly unlikely she had heard of VHEMT. Watch video
Non-celebrities have also written of their VHEMT awareness. Below is a sampling from among the many who wrote in English:
I’ve always had this thought in my mind that humans have had a good run, but it’s getting about time to give the other species a shot. Siân
I had never heard of this movement until today but I almost cried with tears of joy. It is so nice to know that I am not the only one who feels this way. Sarah
Like many of your supporters, I came about the idea of human extinction on my own through my own volition but I am delighted to see other sensible human beings sharing my sentiment. I have had this idea for quite some time but I appreciate knowing that I am not alone. Danny
I am 19 years old and i am a strong supporter of the VHEMT. I only just found out about the movement and I was suprised to find out that there is other people out there that think the same as I do. Daniel, Australia
My name is Sean and I have always thought that the earth would be better off without humans.
I became what is defined as a Supporter many years ago, and I knew a few people were with me, but I never dreamed there would actually be an organization about it. I must officially be a part of it! Anonymous
Personally, I have been in full and hearty agreement with VHEMT’s goals, from long before I discovered the organisation’s existence. Kate, NZ
This voluntary concept occured to me a while ago. Realising that this idea is being shared seriously by more people gives me comfort and strength. Yanic, Montreal, Canada
I am 28 years old and have basically supported human extinction my entire life. I found out about the actual movement of VHEMT about seven years ago. Elizabeth
For once in life, someone’s been able to put words to my thoughts... Bea, Spain
Been a long time believer in the philosophy. Glad to discover it’s got a name and a sense of humour. Anonymous
I’ve always thought earth would be a better place without the plauge that the human race is. I was glad when i heard about VHEMT on Swedish radio. Andreas, Sweden
I came to the same conclusions as those being professed by this group when I was a little boy. Sanghananda
I had vhemt’s ideas before i heard about it!! Irenne
The ideas of your movement are breeding in me for many years, but only yesterday I’ve learnt, to my pleasant surprise, about VHEMT. Anatoly, Israel
i’m a vegan, animal rights activist. i just discovered this group but i’ve had these ideas for years and years. jezamae
Until now, I thought I was the only person resented for drawing this deductive conclusion. It’s nice to see that a few others have drawn some objectivity out of their existence (stepping around their innate psychological humanism) and come to this conclusion independently. Karl
Thank you for VHEMT—I literally just this minute found out about you—I thought it was only me!!! It’s really made my day to know that there are others who feel the same way all across the world! Tony UK
I was surprised and pleased to learn about this group. I’m happy to know that I’m not alone in this belief. Elliet
Without knowing anything about vhemt I had already come to the same conclusion. Ann
I have just finished reading The World Without Us and found the VHEMT concept mirrored what I have been yapping about for years (like some lone madman among the reproducing masses. Possumtail
I am an environmental studies major in California. Just saw your site for the first time tonight. I came to these same conclusions myself over the past 5 years or so. I have been trying to find a group that sees things the same way I do and now I have. I am going to tell all my friends about it as well. Kristy
Dear VHEMT, I’m not alone! This is some of the best stuff I have read in ages. Thank Gaia there are others like me, I was beginning to think I was a bit weird! Ray, UK
I am an avid VHEMT supporter and volunteer. Interestingly, I’ve only recently discovered VHEMT, but I had long ago decided to never have children for many reasons, namely environmental. rhb
just found your website, whilst searching for related topics i couldn´t believe what i had read!! i think almost exactly the same as u do... Guilherme, Lisbon, Portugal
I’ve held this same idea about human propagation coming to a halt for most of my life, and have tried to persuade others that ending our species by refusing to breed would be a good thing. Leonids
We all begin at birth, but our path of progressive awareness doesn’t begin until we grow beyond pre-awareness.
Shock is the first step in our journey of progressive awareness. There’s no returning to the blissful ignorance of pre-awareness once we receive our first shock of reality. Shock doesn’t last for long—it can’t. People won’t live long in a state of shock. For almost all of us, denial is our first reaction to shock.
Denial is a sanctuary from shock. This is a good time to stop and figure things out—to get emotionally and intellectually ready to continue the journey. Unfortunately, most people never leave denial. If you seem to be doing well with the way things are, what’s the problem? Living in denial robs us of peace of mind. Our conscience knows the nagging truth, and the anger keeps leaking in. When we stop denying reality, we are forced into the next phase—anger. It looks ugly and unprofitable.
Hopeful anger is a powerful, driving force which can keep us working hard for years. Unfortunately, it is also hard on our personalities. People have sacrificed their Selves in the battle to preserve Earth’s ecosystems, often becoming cynical and giving up hope. Then they move to the hopeless anger phase.
Phase four is home to the cynical and the misanthropic. The good aspect of this phase is that it allows many to consider human extinction for the first time. The bad aspect is that this option is usually considered without love. Famines and epidemics don’t seem so bad from this perspective. Anger is actually left over from denial. It means we haven’t fully accepted the situation yet. When we do, anger dies.
More depressing than hopeless anger is acceptance without hope. Without anger to keep us going, unrealistic hopelessness can be a short-cut back to denial or even to suicide. People in this phase might not be so hard to take if they would just shut up about it. If they were angry, at least there would be some excitement to their dirges. Though often necessary, this phase should be as short as possible. It’s hard to break loose from a lengthy depression. Perhaps just realizing that there is hope... allowing ourselves to see the signs of hope, which are all around us, will break the spell and allow us to move on to the hopeful acceptance phase.
Yes, there is still hope, and it will raise us out of the depths of depression. We can easily go too far, however. If our acceptance elevates into the clouds of mindless hopefulness, we will have lost some of our hard-learned awareness. Unrealistic hopefulness is socially graceful and more pleasant than some of the previous phases, but it too can be a short-cut back to denial. We must take the final progressive step.
With a VHEMT perspective we move forward in a dynamic balance of optimism and pessimism, aware that our reality is both hopeful and hopeless. Once we accept that humans are hopeless as a species, there is renewed hope for the survival of the planet as a life form. Although there will be times when we fall back to an earlier phase, a VHEMT Volunteer is less likely to swing to and fro from yin to yang like a yo-yo. With a balanced awareness, our efforts to preserve life on Earth will meet with more success, no matter what those efforts may be.
An additional note from Les:
Reading Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ stages of death in On Death and Dying, I was amazed that it was so close to the typical path of awareness in dealing with our “death” as a species. At the time, I didn’t realize that Dr. Ross’ stages correspond more closely than my sketch shows. “Bargaining” is a stage just before acceptance. Deals with God are attempted at this point. I didn’t think it applied to VHEMT.
Over the years, I’ve shared with other Volunteers some of the many letters I’ve received asking if there’s some way out of our extinction: go into space, achieve a sustainable population density, learn to live in harmony, invent a technological fix... something.
They had achieved an understanding of what’s been done to the biosphere, and were done being angry about it, but weren’t quite ready to accept that we must disappear. Then someone pointed out that this is the bargaining stage, and it rang true.
Just as people who know they are dying sometimes do, we could live the rest of our lives in the bargaining stage—hoping for a miracle to restore ecosystems and stop extinctions.
It’s up to each of us to grow beyond these earlier stages. No one can do it for us. A hopeful hopelessness awaits us.
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