I’ve spent the past few days having a lot of long, intense conversations with friends about all the really heavy subjects you can think of. It’s made me think about how important it is to boil-down complex ideas into short, simple statements. So, I have a couple of those for you today.
What Matters Most?
What do we know about the universe? We know that everything falls apart. Given enough time, systems and structures decay. Entropy is the gradual decay into disorder and it is considered the 2nd law of thermodynamics. You might also see this as the inevitable course of civilizations or human works. Everything falls apart.
However, there is one thing int he universe that completely defies this rule. That is the life force. This is the most unique and mysterious force in existence. We humans carry this life force. And, as far as we can tell, we are the only living things with consciousness, agency, self-awareness, a conscience, and the ability to dramatically affect our surroundings.
So, what matters most? The preservation of this unique and spectacular phenomenon: the human being. That’s me, that’s you, that’s all of us. The collective humanity must survive and thrive.
How Do We Fix Everything?
Of course, not a lot of people agree with my sentiments about what matters most. Maybe they’ve never thought about it, maybe they’ve postulated some other formula of values that flies in the face of mine. Maybe they think humans are worthless and worthy of extinction, or maybe they think that certain humans need to be killed to make way for their own kind of humans, or that humans need to be dominated and controlled. I don’t agree with these sentiments, and some of them are in fact threatening to my existence and to the people I love. So what can be done about it? How do we fix the problems of murderousness, bigotry, and oppression so that future generations don’t have to face these familiar threats?
Every human being sees the world differently, and we in our long history have tried many failed strategies to make everyone see it the same way. The 20th century was full of examples of this: traditional warfare, industrialized warfare, atomic warfare, totalitarianism, genocide, imprisonment, censorship–all various versions of coercion by force. But, like the Hydra, each time you cut off one head it seems that two more emerge. Coercion by force will not bring about the end of the threat of malicious force. In other words, two wrongs don’t make a right.
No, I think the only way we can fix the world is through love and understanding–and patience. Love is not empty sentiment, it is the active practice of treating other people the way you’d want to be treated. Understanding is likewise no vague attitude, but an active practice of listening and learning and experiencing others’ realities. Patience is also a practice.
We may not see the end of those malicious and harmful philosophies in our lifetimes. It may take many generations to do away with these existential threats to mankind. But, the more we practice saying and living the truth, the liars are bound to suffer and fail and diminish.
So, how do we fix everything? We show compassion even to our worst enemies, we do the work to understand those who are different from us, and we wait patiently as the human race draws closer together.
(If my blogs have been too heavy for you lately, don’t worry, next week I’ll talk about push-ups.)
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