Friday, 20 April 2012

What matters?

There is so much pressure in this world. It feels like we are told from a young age that what matters in life is that we should be the best we can be, that we should constantly push forwards and progress. Somehow, we seem to have gotten it in our heads that this is all we need to care about, that all else pales into insignificance when compared with the bettering of our culture and its people. For example, take the fact that schools are now expected to give out a certain amount of homework to children around the age of five every week. I’m not saying that it is a bad thing for 5 year olds to learn things at home, but having seen the sheer amount of homework they are given, I makes me wonder what the powers that be really think is important when it comes to bettering ourselves.

Bettering ourselves is important, that much is evident. There are clearly benefits in becoming better, though not all of us agree on what exactly defines us as being better, and it is a logically fitting concept that we should carve this goal into our lives as our end goal. But what is the exact nature of this end goal? How can we say whether something is working towards this goal or not?

Firstly, I don’t think that this goal can be efficiency. At least, not efficiency alone. This is because efficiency may be a good quality, something that is desirable, but it is only important when applied to something else.It’s all well and good to say that we should attempt to be as efficient as possible, but then we are faced with the question, “but what should we be efficient about?”

Secondly, I don’t think that we can say that what matters most is survival. Biological theories such as natural selection embellish the concept of survival of genetics as being the ultimate aim of the entire family of all living things. However, imagine the situation of the Lone Immortal. Say that a single human being achieved complete immortality, so much so that nothing could kill him, that no matter how long he lived, or how seriously his body was damaged, he would endure and heal. Now say that there was a terrible war on our planet which resulted in the destruction of the entire world’s living population, leaving only this immortal man. Without other individuals, rational beings, his life would become meaningless. Additionally, without any other forms of life, there would not be the option of simply waiting for several million years for something else to evolve into a rational state. His life would become empty of all meaning. Survival is not our ultimate goal, but perhaps it is a part of it.

Personally, I think that our ultimate goal is to better ourselves in as much as trying to be accepting people. When we reach the point at which we can truly claim without any doubt that our cultures, our societies have cast off the chains of all prejudice and discrimination, when we have finally acknowledged that we as a race are flawed and finite, when we realise that science and efficiency and cold, clinical numbers are not everything, at this point and this point alone will we be bettered.

The only thing that give our lives purpose is how we interact with other people. Alone, we are worthless and mean nothing. In others, we find our own worth.

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