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Living Simple: Why Are We Here?
How’s that for a topic? Let’s just push away all of the b.s. and discuss what is the very reason for our existence. No sense beating around the bush this morning; let’s get right down to it, shall we?
Before we begin, let me mention that this article does not pre-suppose the existence of God, so the approximately 15% of you out there who are atheists can continue reading. I believe that we all have a purpose, one that can be defined whether you believe in God or not, and that purpose is determined by us.
I will attempt to answer this question based on my belief system which of course is based on the sum total of my experiences during this sixty-three year journey. I do not claim to be correct nor am I trying to force-feed you some placebo for the soul. I am simply tossing the question out there, giving you my thoughts and then moving on
Join me under the Tree of Thought today; the grass is luscious and a vibrant green; the wind is gently blowing the warm wind and the leaves are rustling. It’s a lovely day for friends to join in thoughtful discussion. I even have some lemonade for you to quench your thirst as we tackle this weighty issue.
Are you comfortable? Good, then, shall we begin?
WHAT IS PURPOSE?
For the sake of this discussion we will say that the reason we are here can be called our purpose. So what is purpose? Scanning the dictionaries we are given the definition of purpose: the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
This definition does not pre-suppose a grand design of existence; it does not depend on the Creation Theory that we were plopped down on this planet by some Creator for His purpose. It simply says that all of us must have a purpose for existence; otherwise we are left with the belief that we are simply stumbling through life without aim, without goals and without direction and that is a rather depressing thought. The thought of seven billion people roaming aimlessly does not fill me with peace of mind. I prefer to believe that all of us have a purpose in life, that we are all trying to attain some goal.
So what is our purpose?
ARE THERE SEVEN BILLION PURPOSES?
Certainly we must be able to narrow the scope a bit. There are those who will tell you that their purpose in life is to provide for their family. There are those who will tell you that their purpose is to attain a lofty standing in society and there are those who believe that they are guided by a desire to help others.
As hard as it may seem to believe there are even those whose sole purpose is hedonistic in nature, self-satisfaction to the extreme, the constant search for personal pleasure.
We have people in all walks of life, from teachers to doctors, lawyers to common laborers; we have parents and criminals, alcoholics and healers, all going about their day taking steps to achieve their goals and attain their purpose. There are many who have pondered this very question, wondering what it all means, what is their role in the bigger picture, and there are those who simply give no thought to such matters, living their lives for the moment and not weighed down by reflections they consider to be a waste of time.
BUT THERE HAS TO BE A PURPOSE, DOESN’T THERE?
Without purpose what is there? Without some commitment to a higher calling we are left with a species that has evolved in intelligence but not in humanness and to this writer that is a frightening thought.
I was reading the other day about Gary Ridgeway, aka the Green River Killer. During his killing spree in the 80’s and 90’s Mr. Ridgeway killed upwards of seventy women and quite possibly more in the Seattle area. If one were to interview this man I wonder what he would say is his purpose in life. I wonder what he would say if asked why he is here on Earth. Has that question ever entered his mind? Has that question ever entered the minds of those who conducted exercises of ethnic cleansing? Has that question ever been considered by those who would do anything for self-gratification?
Would they say that they are here simply to kill or to derive as much sensual gratification as possible? Can there really be human beings so shallow in character that they think of nothing else but their own gains, their own stimulation and their own self-fulfillment no matter the cost to others?
THE HIGHER CALLING
Try to imagine a world with seven billion people, each with separate purposes, each roaming the planet segregated from each other because of their own mutually exclusive reasons for existence. No grand purpose, no higher calling, no consideration of the bigger picture; can you imagine it? Perhaps it is quite easy to imagine. One need only turn on the television or read the newspaper to see the natural outcome of life without a higher calling. Murders, rapes, wars, assaults, all speak to an ever-increasing number of people who quite obviously have given no thought to why we are here. Greed, destruction of the environment, abandonment, lack of humility and compassion, how can these be the purpose of life?
What is it that separates us from the other creatures with whom we share this planet? Is it just intelligence or is it intelligence in conjunction with feelings? In order for this mad, mad world to make sense there must be a higher calling. There must be a statement of purpose that includes compassion and empathy for others. Finally, there must be the greatest of all, namely love!
Without compassion, empathy and love there is no hope in this lifetime. Our greatest attribute is not our ability to use tools nor is it our ability to reach the moon and beyond. Our defining characteristic as humans is our ability to love and act on that love. To be guided by any other purpose than love is to revert back to the times when we crawled out of a cave and beat each other over the head with clubs.
SO, WHY ARE WE HERE?
Stated in the simplest way possible we are here to love. Nothing else has any meaning! If our actions are guided by anything other than love we have not evolved as a species. We all speak in glowing terms of men and women like Gandhi and we turn away in horror when the names Hitler or Bundy are mentioned and yet…..do our daily actions reflect our stated beliefs? Are we walking the talk or just flapping our jaws spouting that which makes us sound good?
We do not live in a vacuum! We are not on our own private island, surrounded by barbed wire, free to do and say what we please with no concern for others. We are each a single unit of the collective seven billion and as such we have to find a way to live together and the only way that can happen is through compassion, empathy and love.
We can no longer blithely ignore the hungry and the suffering. We can no longer turn our heads with indifference when injustice occurs. We have a responsibility to each other to find a collective purpose based on common understanding. We have a responsibility to ourselves to find a higher purpose.
To do anything else is to be less than what we should be. To do anything else is to be less than…..human.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
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