life: the condition which distinguishes active animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, functional activity, and continual change preceding death…
(Oxford English Reference Dictionary (2002))
Life has so many definitions. For some, a breeze, others, a constant battle for survival. But why do so many people long for ‘meaning’ in their lives, and what do they mean by this? Meaning of your life to you? Meaning of your life to others? Meaning of life in general to all people?
Here’s my Haiku on Being again, in case you missed it:
Haiku on Being
It seems to me,
Is as subjective,
As not to be,
Creatures unburdened by consciousness don’t need meaning, my cat probably lives in a more blissful contentment than any human. Hamlet said ‘conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought’. Consciousness is an eternal torment for some, as whilst giving us the capacity for diverse positive emotions, it also provides bounteous mechanisms for the profoundly negative. To consider one’s own internal existence is an absolutely subjective experience, with an infinite amount of variables from the neurotransmitters in the nervous system to the country we were born into, the religion we were fed from infancy, the places we visit in our lives, etcetera, all influencing our overall ‘meaning’ of life. It’s a shame in my view, that people identify with each other by the similarities they share, rather than differences, so communities can inevitably become isolated and even alienated. This is just the natural tribal nature of man, but it gives rise to irrational views and acts such as nationalism, racism, fascism, religious extremism (not by any means restricted to Islam), and the list goes on, and on.
My point is that the more divided into separate groups the human race becomes, or the more people associate frankly minor differences with negative connotations, surely the more fear and hatred and war will prevail around the world. You might say I’m stating the obvious, all you have to do is look back through the history of civilisation to find enough blood spilled to fill the Mediterranean, but if it’s so obvious then why aren’t we learning from it yet? Is it the greed and power-hunger of the higher echelons? That certainly can’t help. The unwillingness of many religious groups to ‘agree to disagree’? Undoubtedly another hindrance of progress. But these are only my opinions, based on a wholly subjective existence, I just think that civilised discussion on these themes is absolutely crucial if communities are to share any mutual understanding and respect. Respect is earned, I’m sure we can all agree on that. As always dear reader, your responses are encouraged, discussion is necessary, and your opinions are as valid as mine.
5 thoughts on “The ‘Meaning’ of Life”
Your haiku is really clever. I have to agree with Hamlet that thoughts have a “pale cast.” They cast a shadow on our better natures. I think we need to learn to separate their true selves from our thoughts. Then we can concentrate on our shared human condition, rather than on the negative and even hateful thoughts that invade our brains. (I say “our” to mean people generally).
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Thanks! Yeah Hamlet really had an excellent gift of expression through words, or should I say Shakespeare? But that’s the true genius of Shakespeare, developing the characters so we know them intimately.
I agree with your other comment, there is too much emphasis today on furthering one’s ‘self’, whatever that is, ref to my post ‘free will’ 😉 But individuals can definitely feel alienated from such a competitive world, and lose out because of it. Not to mention losing out simply because of where you’re born. Unity is the answer, it just seems so unachievable. Thanks again for your response, it has provoked my thoughts…
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Competition is such a harmful mentality / state of society. I don’t believe we as humans need to compete for resources. We have everything we could possibly need, and are too greedy to share it with each other and perceive the true abundance we have. I guess I sound like a hippie, but I do agree that competition alienates us from each other. I haven’t read Hamlet in a while but his mother was in on the plot to kill his father, correct? Competitive corruption right there.
You’re so right about competition and abundance of resources, we have more than enough to go around.
On Hamlet, that’s one interpretation of his mother, but I prefer to think she didn’t know of the plot against Hamlet senior until afterwards, when young Hamlet confronts her in her room. It still has so much to do with competition and corruption though, either way..
Thanks for your comment 🙂
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Haha, my Hamlet is rusty, so I am open to the interpretation that she wasn’t aware, either…but her current husband definitely killed Hamlet’s father, right? One of the items on my bucket list is to read the entire works of Shakespeare…