Building Meaning from Conflict

Most people in the world are in a hard scrabble for existence and the idea of life having meaning is not within their meager means. For there to be meaning, there are conditions that have to be met – basic survival needs must be secure, free time not spent in securing basic survival or making ends meet, and the ability to access a larger world than mere existence allows.

We are each dots and connecting the dots forms a interrelated whole, something larger than the sum of the parts that we have the time and ability to contribute to.

The interconnected dots at the first level is one’s family, be it nuclear or extended, and the family dots then connect to the village, the neighborhood, the community at large. With the community dots becoming cities, regions, nations, until the whole world is one blue-green dot of 8 or 9 depending how you like your planets defined around a yellow dot, which in turn becomes one dot from far enough away in a sea of dots in the milky way and beyond.

But each of us is the central dot of our particular universes, the one dot that connects to all other dots.

And we determine the quality and quantity of connections to other central dots in other universes, and resolve if our ideas about the universe dominates or accommodates the other dot’s ideas or is in turn dominated or accommodated, but either way, each contributes someone unique to the other and the collision, impact, glancing blow, passers in the night, leaves a trace on the other.

We are contradictory in that we have a strong inclination to conform but we also seek novel experiences – without novelty, we stagnate, but without some degree of conformity – of harmony – we also wither and die. The ability to balance is the ability to live well and authentically – with meaning and purpose.

To not fix what isn’t broken, and to change what isn’t working as well as it could be. To make it interesting, we all have different ideas of what broken means and what working well does; thus, life is conflict.

People who are conservative by nature – I am referring to tradition, convention, conformity, moderate, reactionary – prefer the tried and true, time tested and non-adaptive to novel experience, new ideas or information, preferring the familiar, the status quo, often even when there are clear benefits to change.

I don’t think conservative and a particular political view or religion are necessarily the same thing, given the plethora of religions and political ideas, I think that it’s just when a particular religion or political idea has been around a long time without change, it’s because it’s drawn a stagnant group of supporters who are drawn to them by default of having outlasted other religious or political ideas.

At one time, all religious and political ideas were new and revolutionary, and only become conservative, status quo, reactionary as they continue to exist – keeping a base of supporters and attracting younger but like minded supporters who continue with tradition.

While revolutionary people who seek novelty and change, sometimes for a purpose or ideal, sometimes for its own sake, either become reactionary and conservative if they remain with the original novel idea or they continue with revolutionary thinking and move to newer and more novel ideas – building tradition upon tradition, rather than solidifying into conformity.

We have the capacity for both within ourselves, and our comfort level, our needs security, will impact through our day – never mind over our lives  – how much novelty tolerance we have.

After all, most of the world tends to conservative conformity, we all want to belong – and it is difficult to understand when people are different from the social norms – often with violent responses from the mainstream – but the fact of there being people who are not whatever is normal for a given time period, culture, community – is not cause to demonize, belittle, discriminate or even kill – but people who stand apart from the norm are the best means by which to better understand norms.

As art mirrors life, so do revolutionaries serve as a mirror to reactionaries.

It’s only when we really know what our values are, that we can make meaning and distinctions, because our individual values are what determine meaning and purpose.

Brief Thought On Existence and the Meaning of Life (via SomeMusician)

My research into existential crisis has lead me to realize that even the the idea that given that i will die, what purpose does life has is a small concern when whole civilizations rise and die out – spanning tens if not hundreds of millions of lives.

That life is short and finite gives life meaning – but the purpose of it is what we individually make of it.

To live a life that is centred on something external like a god and to take purpose from that, is not to live a purposeful, but an unexamined life that one is hoping has a purpose in a larger plan that is not known to the person living said life.

I cannot imagine living an externally centred existence, and it’s little wonder that so many religious people are willing to throw away their lives as suicide bombers, as if taking life is a purpose and worse, expecting a reward.

What an evil and callow god they worship.

Better to live an internally centred life and make meaning and purpose.

I've often been told that leading a life of atheism (I am still unsure of what this means…seriously.) is one that is without purpose, without value. A life of atheism would be a depressing one as our lives would be rendered cosmically insignificant. While many of the theists that say this fully concede that this does nothing to support their claim of the existence of a God, this unfulfillable life that would result from there not being a god wo … Read More

via SomeMusician

Purpose of (Capitol L) Life

Recently posted in a discussion on a public forum:

“It appears to me any organism with a sense of being {intelligence vs instinct} has at one time or another strived to answer what, why, or how when concerning our existence. So with this I believe there is a necessity to ‘understand.’  ”

To which, I respond:

So, because we’re all pretty much so self absorbed to think that we collectively and individually have a purpose, that there must be one?

Maybe we yearn for a purpose because there isn’t one….

In a universe that’s not teaming with life that we can detect, it seems like life might well be a fluke.

As for a deity or group of, and anything powerful enough that drives the universe with or to a purpose, is awful slow in getting the universe to a point where the purpose is in play, evident or meaningful.

Unless we’re basically a petri dish. Not a nice thought.

Even if there was “something”, does that mean we’re required to play along and fulfill that purpose? We don’t get a choice?

Humans are not unique in self awareness.

Elephants in captivity marked with red on their heads and put in front of mirrors touch the spot of red – they know that it is themselves and not another elephant. They also collect the bones of their dead and they mourn the loss of group members.

Spending any time with cats or dogs also allows a person to see some sense of self in them. And it’s really not Disney-izing them.

The 2 cats and 2 dogs that live with me have clear and distinct personalities. They have boundaries that they enforce with …well…force. And they use facial expression, body language and sounds to communicate what they want – pet me, feed me, pay attention to me, don’t touch me there.

There’s no evidence that any animals wonder why or try to answer why they are around. They just enjoy what they can and do what they need to in order to live.

When you look back through all the history of the earth – the vast majority of the 4.5 billion years hasn’t had any life on the planet.

Humans have been on the earth for a blink of that time.

If you were a deity, are you really going to wait that long to get to the creatures that you have a purpose for?

Think about all the species that are gone, all the mass extinctions – practice runs? rough drafts until the earth got to us? Doesn’t that mean that we’re just another step to something else?

If you really believe that there’s an afterlife, then there must be a beforelife.  So, if the deity is all knowing and all powerful, why let anyone be born – keep all the souls at hand in the afterlife.

What’s that? Life is the testing and proving ground?

Why bother, an all knowing god is going to know who’s going to be good or bad before hand. Weed them out and not waste the time.

If the afterlife is an eternal thing, why would a soul need to keep coming back to live a life and learn new lessons – there’s no way to learn lessons in the afterlife?

Adding in a deity makes the whole thing sound awful boring and even reduces Purpose.

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Random small bit:

It’s really funny to me when people start their advice with “If I were you…”

Then proceed to tell you to do something that you don’t want to do, aren’t interested in doing, and really wouldn’t do.