The human will to significance can be problematic. Ideologies of self justification and self aggrandizing beliefs may be a human defense to its demise but it can lead to horrible realities. The transference of life and meaning to objects and symbols is a human trait that makes conflict more probable. It is no longer a piece of land, cloth, stone or building but my very life and existence. Two heroic systems that are born from this escape from oblivion and this will to significance, cannot stand to co-exist with one another because their mere existence points to the fallacy of their absolute superiority. Thus genocide is even justified kill the people to keep the ideology alive. Humans have often sacrificed real life for imaginary life.
The human ability to give meaning to colors, flags, stories, and symbols has often led to two or more movements to battle in a bloody conflict for hegemony. Becker wrote, "The last thing man can admit to himself is that his life-ways are arbitrary: this is one of the reasons that people often show derisive glee and scorn over the strange customs of other lands—it is a defense against the awareness that his own way of life may be just as fundamentally contrived as any other. One culture is always a potential menace to another because it is a living example that life can go on heroically without a value framework totally alien to ones own."
"Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together." - Eugene Ionesco
"We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special."
"It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. Its a crazy world out there. Be curious."
Ernest Becker, the Pulitzer Prize winning author, wrote, “In order to turn out a piece of work the author has to exaggerate the emphasis of it, to oppose it in a forcefully competitive way to other versions of the truth…the problem is to find the truth underneath the exaggeration.” When it comes to the variations of meaning within conflict and tragedy one is confronted with the limitations of covering such a broad subject when it is so complex in nature. The will to meaning within the human experience has had important consequences for the world. It is hard to exaggerate the influential aspects of the pursuit for purpose when the will to meaning in human experience has given so many the strength to deal with the blows of fate. But there is a dark side to the will to meaning and the denial of death.
The human ability to give meaning to colors, flags, stories, and symbols has often led to two or more movements to battle in a bloody conflict for hegemony. Becker wrote, “The last thing man can admit to himself is that his life-ways are arbitrary: this is one of the reasons that people often show derisive glee and scorn over the ‘strange’ customs of other lands—it is a defense against the awareness that his own way of life may be just as fundamentally contrived as any other. One culture is always a potential menace to another because it is a living example that life can go on heroically without a value framework totally alien to one’s own.” The transference of life and meaning to objects and symbols is a human trait that makes conflict more probable. It is no longer a piece of land, cloth, stone or building…but my very life and existence. Two heroic systems that are born from this escape from oblivion and this will to significance, cannot stand to co-exist with one another because their mere existence points to the fallacy of their absolute superiority. Thus genocide is even justified…kill the people to keep the ideology alive. Humans have often sacrificed real life for imaginary life.
I do not want to discredit humanity as a hopeless endeavor. A few years ago a friend and I went on a road trip. We came across a car that was stopped at the side of the road. I will never forget what I saw. I saw a woman sitting on the side of the road holding a dying deer. She gently stroked the creature’s head as it lay in her lap. My faith in humanity sparked again by its ability to give a damn. That woman made a horrible act of chance into a beautiful image of hope. Despite the indifference of the universe we humans still have the choice to care about the universe.
The universe is not built towards human happiness or fulfillment. Human happiness must be manufactured by human beings. The human ability to create through art, words, or other symbols is also the human ability to destroy. If a creature can create it can also destroy. The good and the bad of humanity is one. The complexity of it makes it less of dichotomy and more of a fusion. Nature is not cruel or beautiful rather it is both cruel and beautiful. The lion that takes the life of a baby gazelle does so under the beauty of the African landscape. A viciousness backed with the scenery of a lost paradise.
Policy makers who do not study humans on a micro level are “like a blind man in a dark basement searching for a black cat—that is not even there!” It is like an auto mechanic who only knows the outward workings of a car but has not grasp of the engine, the inward driving force. He can tell you how to drive it but not help you fix it. The study of human psyche and emotions should be a requirement to the world of policy makers if it hopes to really face the human challenges in the 21st century. When it comes to global politics human feelings and emotions can be as dominant and relevant as any empirical data that is produced. As Patricia Crone noted, “The very purpose of ideal types is to simplify a complex reality.”
"Existence, for all organismic life, is a constant struggle to incorporate whatever other organisms they can fit into their mouths and press down their gullets without choking. Seen in these stark terms, life on this planet is a gory spectacle, a nightmare in which digestive tracts fitted with teeth at one end are tearing away at whatever flesh they can reach, and at the other end are piling up the fuming waste excrement as they move along in search of more flesh...
Sensitive souls have reacted with shock to the elemental drama of life on this planet, and one of the reasons that Darwin so shocked his time...life cannot go on without the mutual devouring of organisms. If at the end of each person's life he were to be presented with the living spectacle of all that he had organismically incorporated in order to stay alive, he might well feel horrified by the living energy he had ingested.
Each organism raises its head over a field of corpses, smiles into the sun, and declares life good."
"Voila mes philosophes." (Here are my philosophers) The French materialist La Mettrie used to say this of his senses...He claimed to have reached this insight during a fever, when he realized that his intellect was entirely subject to his body. Entelodont, crocodiles, sharks, and T-Rex: Voila mes philosophes.
One must eat, sleep, strive for sex and then die. Anyone with a harsh disease or illness knows the burden of the body. Anyone who has seen death come upon your loved ones and friends knows the power of the body. Anyone who has starved or suffered merciless due to the body...knows. Many people who have full stomachs, healthy bodies or a modest safe society can judge from an arm chair philosophy that life is divine but they fail to use their imagination of other realities besides their own. (See Primo Levi writings) But the body will come and ask for its debt at some time and then they will know the body is a philosophy unto itself. Death comes to us all. The limits of the body are combined with the free imagination of the human mind. A glorious combination or the human horror? Viktor Frankl stated “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering." Could it be that suppressing reality and creating illusions might be vital to human life with its burden of consciousness? Humans do not have to be indifferent to the pain and suffering of other living organisms and that is where humanity can use its bigger brains to heal and care for life instead of reveling in solipsistic survival and comfortable inertia. Otherwise this passive nihilism will hatch anew Marquis De Sade's ascent.
"Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter" Dr. Martin Luther King
Author of Blog
Born in the United States of America. Spent my Childhood in Kenya, East Africa. Graduate of George Mason University in Global Affairs with a concentration in Africa and the Middle East. What I desire is not total agreement but thoughtful people. To share ideas and expand knowledge in the era of globalization.