Garcin and Judas are stand-ins for every human being today or in the past. Their selfish actions, their attempts to believe that they are the focus of truth, and uniquely worthy of adulation and worship, are beliefs not restricted to these particular sinners. Whether in Dante's world, or in Sartre's, sin was most commonly the result of ignorance. To understand our world, to understand the cosmos, we must look beyond ourselves and stop seeing in terms of the physical. Material existence, its pleasures and gratifications of the senses, are not necessarily the goals of eternity. We spend but a few short years on this earth, and all too often, it is in a pantomime of self-absorption. We do not interact with our fellow women and men. We do not dare to comprehend their feelings and needs. Together, with a little empathy, and some understanding, we might learn things, and so become stronger than the sum of our individual identities. Truth is there for the taking. We need only seek it.
Dante Alighieri, Dante's Inferno, trans. Henry Francis Cary (New York: Cassell, Petter, Galpin, 1885) 45.
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