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.
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.
Is meaning inherent?
Meaning of a thing appears more to do with an assessment of it’s impact or outcome than any meaning inherent in the thing alone or of it’s own sake.
A meaningful gesture is a symbolic recognition of mutual understanding, so the gesture in and of itself is merely a pointer to meaning, rather than a mechanism of creating meaning. Worse, a misunderstood or improperly executed or decoded gesture can erode meaning and instead cause confusion and detract from any meaningful engagement or interaction.
Any object is meaningful only when it’s purpose and utility – or decoration/adornment – is understood, rather than arising from the fact of its physical being. An ancient pottery has utility as a storage container and can convey cultural meaning dependent on the ability to understand the symbols and adornment – or lack thereof – on the pottery.
Meaning is understood when it is coded and decoded in a manner that is mutually understood by two or more parties, so meaning appears to not be inherent, but rather implied and inferred. If one cannot directly address or deduce meaning, is there any meaning at all? Is everything merely an interpretation, dependent on expectations, experience, wishful thinking and interpretation?
In which case, meaning is intentional and manipulated into being, with forethought and thus is imposed or read into and then interpreted – a meaning fulfillment. Is understanding meaning then merely confirmation bias?
Harmonious when there are few or no stakes involved in agreeing to meaning and disharmonies when two or more parties have a stake or interest in a particular meaning; and conflict when the parties interest in meaning are at odds with each other.
Conflict then becomes the prioritizing mechanism by which meaning is determined or understood in hierarchy.
Conflict then is the interaction with another person and determining the balance between their meaning and your own – thus all meaning is symbolic and undetermined until conflict is resolved and determines the relative meaning of the individual meanings.
Thus, life has no inherent meaning other than being the conflict by which meaning is measured and determined.