… There is none. So forty-two is rather accurate, imagine my surprise. There there, now, stop fidgeting – it’s not what you think. What I meant was there is no universal one-size-fits-all meaning of life. Feeling better?
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. It’s not philosophical, it’s not scientific, it’s about validation. I believe and the world reinforces my belief. I look around and the world looks back at me. Even the abyss. We’re trained to look for connections even before we developed consciousness – if the grass is moving maybe there’s a predator moving it. It’s a trait of survival, something to help us survive in a dangerous world. Maybe there’s no predator stalking us but in a dangerous world even a small chance of something bad happening has to be considered, it could be the literal difference between life and death. Maybe it’s genetic – but then, what is PTSD?
In a world with less and less life-threatening danger, we believe causal links exist when there are none. I get sick? It’s a conspiracy or perhaps it’s god’s plan for me. Anything to explain why we’re experiencing pain is preferable to random chance. That’s why we believe in luck and bad luck, in certain god(s) or in conspiracies. It’s also why things are so screwed up in today’s society. As a collective, we have chosen to fix the symptoms while ignoring the illness. We just want to fix pain – mental pain that is – for everyone. It’s understandable. Not quite correct, but understandable.
Each individual is different. Each and every one has different experiences, different genetics, different education and different hopes and aspirations. There is no universal way of making people happy – so we don’t try to educate people to search for what makes each one of them happy – we just made up a framework in which every individual has the right to be happy just because they exist. It’s a form of control, actually – I’m being told I’m supposed to be happy working a certain job and if I’m not happy then it’s not my fault. It’s because I’m defective (as in sick), discriminated, or oppressed. If I’m sick – they give me medicine. If I’m discriminated or oppressed – there’s lawyers and shit. It’s also the cause of “alternative medicine” – they’re not making it illegal (as most other scams are) just because they know it’s placebo sugar and water – it would mean individuals would lose a sure way of explaining why they feel bad, and many of them have guns. The government has only the power we’re giving away willingly. They’re few and we’re legion so here, eat your homeopathic remedy and let the subconscious do the relaxing. No, it’s homeopathic not placebo – see, the name is different..
In our reality we’re supposed to believe we’re important, we should feel valued and needed – even if we’re none of those things. It keeps people from thinking, it keeps them from questioning, it keeps them from doing the right thing – it keeps you doing a job you hate for and with people you can’t stand. You survive, you exist – nothing more, nothing less. Those who succeed are the exception not the norm. Happiness is something they mention but can’t define, because the definition would scare the crap out of you. God works in mysterious ways, because the alternative would mean you are actually the one with the power to make yourself happy. And since most people don’t really want to know that, god was created. We also created anti-depressants.
The only thing keeping you from reaching that mental nirvana is called entitlement. You think you are the center of the universe, that you are important (or should be) and everybody else has to accept you for who you are. You think that getting ill is a tragedy, or that your husband or wife suffering an incurable disease is unfair. It may be a tragedy and also unfair, but only to you and those around you. If humanity disappeared today, nothing more than the life already on this planet would be affected – there would still be a solar system, there would still be life swimming, running, crawling or slithering around – the world would still exist. In Carlin’s words:
“We’re so self-important. Everybody’s going to save something now. Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails. And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet. Save the planet, we don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. I’m tired of this shit. I’m tired of f-ing Earth Day. I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is that there aren’t enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world safe for Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don’t give a shit about the planet. Not in the abstract they don’t. You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn’t impress me.
The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles … hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages … And we think some plastic bags and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE are!”
It doesn’t mean bad things aren’t painful. It doesn’t mean sickness is less real or less terrible. It doesn’t mean I won’t be affected by the pain of those around me, or vice versa – it just means we’re the only species (that we know of) arrogant enough to think we’re important because we exist. It’s not correct. If we ever find aliens – like intelligent, conscious, talking aliens – would they be offended by the Miss Universe beauty pageant? It doesn’t cover their female population (assuming they have one), so we’d probably have to change the name of the contest or maybe include them too. It’s a matter of perspective. The big picture.
If life is precious, why waste it doing things we don’t like? If happiness is important, why not seek it instead of listening to people telling us we’re defective? Why are we not improving our lives? Why aren’t we stopping to smell the roses?
If somebody you know or even love is sick and the doctors can’t cure them, you’ll know what fear is. You’ll know then what it’s like to feel powerless. Yes, even I would probably look for reasons to explain why that happened. It’s something to stop the pain (my pain), not to cure the illness. There may be a good reason for it too – like smoking leading to cancer, like bad food leading to diabetes or heart problems – but those reasons, even if they’re true, won’t really make the pain go away or make it hurt less. A genetic disease doesn’t have another reason for happening except your birth – I know, I got one. Took me three years after I was diagnosed to come to terms with it, too. I won’t die anytime soon because of it, but if I don’t use the miracles of modern medicine I’m not exactly myself. There’s no reason to explain why I got it – it’s not my fault – even if I used to think it was. I was born with it. But it is my fault if I use it as a reason to give up. If you think it was god’s plan for me then you can go to hell yourself – what I do with my life is my business and my choice and I choose to be happy and to love my wife and son. Not because I’m sick or because you think your god gave me a reason, but because of my own free will. I saw many with the same problem I have – I chose to deal with it, to go around it, others chose to think it was who they are. It allowed them to be free of the consequences of their actions. If my illness is who I am then I won’t ever try to rise above it.
That’s the whole point of society today, it is designed by us to provide us with a way to shift the problem, from me to them, from you to them. From individual to group, to the whole of society. Everything we decide has consequences. Depending how deep inside a social group we are, it can have a small or big impact on those around us. If we do something wrong, we feel pain and/or those around us feel pain. The problem is that we designed our society to provide pain relief, not tools to adapt and heal.
It’s similar to treating diarrhea with Xanax – we still shit our pants but now we’re relaxed, like it’s cool, man. Instead of understanding I did something wrong and accepting the consequences, society wants me to be absolved of guilt and mental pain – because it’s painful to think I’m the real reason for doing bad things – so things go whirr and poof and here’s a reason totally unrelated to my decisions. It’s god’s plan, it’s a disease I have that’s making me do bad things, it’s that guy’s fault, it’s… anyone else but me. I got news son, it’s your fault. Being sick isn’t your fault (probably) but how you decide to deal with it is your responsibility.
If I got diabetes (no, that’s not the genetic thing) it’s an event. Good, bad, whatever – I got sick not stupid. Me choosing to eat crap after learning I was sick is a bad decision. Me choosing to lose weight and stop eating sugary stuff is a good decision. Me asking my co-workers to bring carrots instead of a cake when it’s somebody’s birthday because I might be tempted to eat it is idiotic. You can’t solve anything by forbidding it. It’s not how it works. You’re only making it illegal and hidden, not solved and non-existent.
We have to understand how things work. It’s not important what we believe in. Hiding crap under the carpet and calling it cleaning is stupid. Personal responsibility is the way to go, and society’s job should be to provide the tools to learn from our mistakes and improve. It should only protect us from abuse not become the abuser. It shouldn’t provide crutches for those who want them, only for those who need them. It shouldn’t decide what’s right or wrong by means of statistics.