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A Statement On The Purpose of Life
As It Stands Now
Religious leaders, politicians, teachers, friends, and family all have their take on the purpose of life. All of them say different things. These things usually contradict each other, and don't fit very neatly with their own actions, causing you to experience a high level of cognitive dissonance, and making sure you don't know what your direction should be. Today's human society is the single most confused mass of life-forms on Earth.
And this confusion is often used to great effect by our world leaders (religious or political). They tell us what our purpose should be in order to further their own agendas. They use your ideals, ideas, hopes, and dreams to their own ends. Of course, speaking extremely realistically, everybody's just trying to survive. Everybody's just trying to carve out their survival niche and to be relatively happy in that.
Happiness - A Nice Idea
This leads me to another point - read any self-help book, any religious book, or the major works of any political ideology. They all say that our purpose in life is to be "happy." While that is a nice thought, life will always intrude. There will always be small things that get to you. There will always be something after that.
As a little exercise, think back to the last time you were truly, 100% happy. Think how long that feeling lasted. Think about how quickly this ephemeral moment fled.
It's nice to have moments like that, but nobody (and I do mean nobody) is constantly truly happy. Nobody lives in a constant state of bliss.
Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise
Another purpose, and a truly pragmatic one, is to end up, somewhere along the line, health, wealthy and wise. If happiness is in there, that's a bonus. If you're satisfied with your lot, that's great. Once again, however, we can see the flaws almost immediately - what if, arriving at that point, you realize it's not all it's cracked up to be. You have to work hard to get there, and you have to work hard to maintain the position you're in.
Let's go on a little tangent at this point. The Earth is a few billion years old. Life has existed for a few billion years as well - and evolved maybe a billion years after the Earth was formed. In that time, it's come quite a long way. It's created humans - creatures capable of "higher" thought and states of higher consciousness.
In the eye of the universe, however, we're but a blink. We're nothing. As a good friend of mine likes to say, "we are bacteria."
And as far as metaphors go, this is one of the rather more accurate ones when talking about human society today. We're bacteria struggling to survive in a petri dish filled with other bacteria. We kill other bacteria of our own kind so that we might have more (more money, more food, whatever). We have created a (fairly crude) system of keeping score on who is the most developed of us called money, which is useless in that it cannot be made anything except for paper-maché, and cannot be eaten.
Curiouser and curiouser
There is one interesting thing about these bacteria. They are extremely curious. They want to know what is happening around them. They want to know what other bacteria think, feel, and have. They want to explore the world around them, or the world inside of themselves. Within the society of these bacteria, however, curiosity is not a survival trait. Being able to turn off curiosity and focus on repetitive, meaningless tasks to get more points is the prime directive. This is the purpose which was built into the society at its inception, assuring that some would always be at the bottom, and others at the top.
Happiness and Society
Given this kind of society, it is very difficult to be happy. It is not possible to be truly happy, even if you are on holiday, simply because work always intrudes. You always have to think of your score, and how many points this particular trip is costing you. You essentially have to turn into a cynical drone who trusts nobody else (I truly admire those who don't) in order to amass your points.
Even if you experience moments of happiness, this can't be all there is to it, can it?
Tying It All Together
As bacteria, we can live in a cut-throat, uncaring society, and do our best to scrape together enough to survive the personal end-times. We can go through life hoping, wishing, dreaming, but not fulfilling. Society does not permit us to fulfill.
We can use what little "free time" we have to pursue our true interests (it is a rare thing for one of these bacteria to work in a job they truly enjoy). In the meantime, we continue killing each other, and killing our host, the Earth.
A Purpose In Life
I propose, here and now, a new purpose to this life. Your life.
I believe that life's purpose is to survive, yes, but also to evolve into something greater. Our bacterial society has been around for a while, and has evolved in some small, interesting ways (the screen you're reading this on is one of those ways). But our essential "form" has not evolved much since Roman times. And I don't mean our physical "form," but rather the form of the entire human race.
I believe that our current level of micro-evolution (technology, consciousness research, etc…) has reached a point where the next level of macro-evolution is possible. We have incubated enough. Let us create a society on this host which will allow us to work together to achieve our next level of existence. Our host has all the necessary resources to do this, but it's running out.
Let's evolve our chances of continued survival and find new hosts for these bacteria. Let's evolve a truly cosmic consciousness. Let's begin satisfying that one trait that separates us from rocks: our curiosity.
Let's reach for the stars.