The world seems to be changing faster with every passing day. The beautiful coastal hills I used to hike in frequently are quickly disappearing under an onslaught of wealthy homeowners building their dream houses where deer, bobcats, and mountain lions used to roam. Though I had always believed that this was inevitable I never thought it would happen in my lifetime, but like so many other times I was wrong.
See? Thank God for Iraq. If you have no higher bastion, no matter how noble or selfless your intentions, you are ultimately condemned to the thought process, "It's all about maximizing the positive sensations I have left before The End." Mr. Payne up there isn't evil per se, nor necessarily confused; rather, he's facing the inevitable outcome of a five-sense philosophy. As Berkeley Breathed reminded us, we're massacring millions of germs as we breathe, so there's some element of these lives that necessarily involves destruction.
The terrible irony of a five-sense philosophy is its mandated selfishness: the lack of anything except objectively cross-verifiable yet relatively-weighted sensation--the conundrum of the non-solipsistic materialist--means that, in the end, your only higher power is what you feel. The world's crumbling, therefore, isn't quite so bad as long as we can wring the place dry for our few years; appreciate a little pocketed "natural beauty" before it runs out. What a miserable stew of despair and bliss, that! For in such philosophies, we're forced to drive our cars past the strip malls that sold our parents the food which nourished us in our childhood home where the land was cleared, then park those cars on state property and go hiking in dwindling wildlands, wishing so many new families weren't clearing land on which to build new homes and strip malls.
There is no more than an illusory balance by which to regiment a five-sense utopia, for who is to decide who lives and who dies, or how many campsites to reserve at the end of any given trail? The right answers aren't worked out in this consciousness, but come upon us naturally, through the endless expansion of material boundaries, such that there never can be a final frontier. It is, rather, the belief that finite resources need to be sheltered, which itself leads to the conclusion that consciousness is finite, and therefore, nothing is sacred, since it exists only to offer us something which we may consume before the end.
The pathos of material kindness lies in its ultimate similarity to material brutishness--the ascetic's restraint makes, in truth, the same argument about the nature of reality as does the glutton's feast.