Purpose and Meaning

It seems silly, trying to figure out the meaning to life. It is such a vague and broad concept that my tiny mind has a hard time simply defining the problem. Often I would look up at the stars, obscured by the car exhaust and city light, and wonder:

"Why are we here? What is our purpose?"

It is ironic at an age where we actually have the ability to reach the stars; the stars are obscured by pollution, so the target seems more distant than ever. The pull of the distant light is not as strong, like a blurred beacon in the mist of sea. By the time our sky is covered in smoke, by the time we are technologically ready, would we loose our urge to travel to a beacon we can no longer see?

I think that is one of our purposes - to travel, to see, and attempt to understand. We have lost the Garden of Eden, but we have gained the rest of our world. It is not a safe world, not for the faint of heart. Yet there is beauty standing on your own two feet, to leave the protective covering of home. That is one of our calling and our choice.

I also have a need to serve a higher purpose, to believe in something more than myself. I am not a religious man, but I do believe there is a higher power. Just like ants are to us, we are to this higher power. A being that is incomprehensible.

Ants don't interest us, it lives in a tiny plane of existence. And although we can hear its prayer for food, its chemical trial of speech, we largely ignore it. It is such a tiny creature with such a short life span. When you live for eternity with no pain nor need, your concept of compassion will be very different from a person who knows fear and weakness. Why be concerned with a creature whose life span is only a second? There would be no point.

I think a being of higher power would have more important things to do than be concerned about our existence. It seems presumptuous of us to beg for help, like the Beggars of Spain, only that we number in the millions. We beg for lottery number, for health, for happiness, for love, and for strength - things that must seem trivial to a higher being.

Lastly, I think a being of higher power is not perfect. Perfection is a moving target. It is relative. To us a higher being might seem perfect, but to himself there would surely be room for improvements. Here is the paradox, if a being can do anything, than why can't it make mistakes? Mistake can surely be defined as part of all. Surely he did not do everything perfect or design everything flawlessly. Simply look at how humans are designed, I would call us far from perfection.

We are imperfect. I believe human beings are part of a group of future oriented animals. We are capable of thinking and planning in terms of decades. Most of the life forms only think in terms of one year, store enough food to last the winter, and the cycle repeats. Yet even though we can think ahead, we do not think in terms of centuries, it is beyond a person's lifetime and the majority of us are limited by our lack of imagination beyond a generation.

Many problems can be contributed to our relative short view thinking. Relative is compared to the timeline of species - 6000 years. We can look at cigarettes and global warming for examples.

Cigarettes brings in so much money - billions, why limit something that will only kill you 40 years later? The person smoking will still be productive while he is smoking and spending money. Thus the short sightedness of mankind, thus the tragedy of needless suffering, the whizzing on the bed, the lung cancer, and the lost of life-span in the decades.

Global warming. Why support Kyoto Protocol? Something that will reduce gas emissions which will cost money. Let the next generation deal with the melting of ice poles, the frequent tornado, the hurricane, the global warming. Is it worth it? Was hurricane Katrina, Wilma, and Rita of 2005 Summer cheaper than Kyoto Protocol?

I don't know why we are here. I don't even know how we got here. Our memories aren't very long when compared with history. So we live our lives repeating all the same motion. Same wars are fought again, same lies told, same knowledge lost and then re-learned again and again. It is like Groundhog Day, like anterograde amnesia, we are doomed to repeat our actions unless we have a longer view and memory.

The ultimate answer to our meaning will probably elude me for all my life. But I think our basic purpose, the very least we should strive to do, is to see, remember, and move forward. I have always felt sorry for the donkey that walks in circle chasing a carrot out of reach.

*This post is the result of a comment posted on my blog a week ago. Someone asked me "what is good and what is bad?" I thought about it, and many unrelated idea came about. This is one of the results. As for the original question, when my thoughts form into a somewhat coherent form, I will post a blog answering her question.


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