What Is Life? (I am repeating and entry from September 2010 because I think it's important.
The nation that is supreme above all others during one age, will be eclipsed by another in the next age.
Here we are, the Americans, living in the greatest nation in the world, or so we think. We have military superiority, except in a few cases. We are economically superior, except in our own government. We have the resources to feed, clothe and provide medical assistance to all of our people, with some exceptions. We have a system of democracy that insures the rights and freedoms of all of it's citizens, except for some. Our free enterprise system allows for the growth and success of any business, except those closed down by unfair competition. We are the envy of the world, except for those who hate us. We are the greatest nation in the world, on paper.
And now, again, the petty squabbling, the war of words, the Scrabble game going on in Congress, over some basic measures we need to straighten out our flaws, is writing the graffiti on the wall that no one wants to read. Is our time up? Are we on the downward curve? Is the American Age over? Must we step down? Is it time for another nation to take over authority of the world? And if so, who?
There is a prophesy which says it is the destiny of the English speaking people to rule the world. What that prophesy does not say, and should, is that those who are destined to rule the world are learning to speak English.
We get angry when we can't understand someone whose English is very poor, even though they come from a foreign country. But the fact is we expect them to speak English no matter where they come from. In most countries students are taught English. Yet there are thousand of people in this country who put up barriers against the use of the simplest Spanish, even though Spanish is the number one language of the Western World and the second language of the United States.
So from where is the next ruling nation coming. There used to be something called The British Empire. It seems the Greeks, Romans and Spaniards have had their day. It might have been France or Germany. Russia? We were all afraid of them for a while. If the South and Central Americans could agree with each other and organize that would be a likely choice. Then there is China. Look around and see who is holding the cards.
I'm an American, and I'm proud to be one, most of the time. But if the government by the people and for the people doesn't put a stop to the disgraceful confusion of interests, the giant squid that has taken hold of our power and our money we will have to relinquish the throne.
This country has no monarch, though there a re a few who would like to be. We have no ruling class, we just have one that thinks it is. The great give-away that happened in the 00's, which I like to call the Naughties, has to be paid for in the Teens. Like any unfortunate debt it has come due. Only in this case it's the American people who are owed the money. Balance the budget? Not until that debt is paid.
We are on the cusp of giving up our world leadership, of failing our obligations, of disappointing our friends, of magnifying the loss of our esteem and quitting the field.
DB - The Vagabond
Never give up.
It's a long, hot, sticky summer, so here's a hot, sticky question for you. Don't let the recent New York State decision rob you of your thunder.
Same sex marriage. Should it be legal or not? If so, why? If not, why not?
13 answers so far.
You have until the last day of summer, but don't dally.
I eagerly await your answer.
The ways of the world are weird.
There have been great thinkers in the fields of Science. So why doesn't Science have all the answers? Our museums are filled with great works of art. So why are people still painting? We have been given inspired music. So why are people still composing? We have wonderful poetry to grace our lives. So why do poets still sing? The world is full of great books. So why do people still write?
While Science is still searching at the bottom of every cave or at the vast galaxies of the universe for a law that will explain everything, artists are looking into the same caves and at the same stars through the lens of imagination for the same law.
Why things are, is the big question. As irritating as it is the child will eventually get over the bad habit of peppering your life with the inane repetition of the word "why" but the question remains on the table nevertheless. That the answer to the question is "I don't know" is what sends people to the cave, the cosmos and the easel.
But there's another question lurking in the cave. A question with facets of wonder and dooubt: "What if?" What if there is no fundamental law of nature which explains everything? What if there is no ultimate achievement of wisdom from the exercise of rationality? What if there is no absolute beauty to be found by any artist? Does that mean there is no point to life, no meaning to our hopes, dreams, plans and actions, no value to anything we are or do? It's a question to be seriously considered by those who have the courage to think about it.
That brings me to another question. If it is true that life has fundamentally no meaning to it will that stop me from hoping, dreaming, planning and doing? Kaufmann also says "It does not follow that nothing is worthwhile if the world is not governed by a purpose."
It isn't enough to say that I do what I do because I want to. It's a step better to say I do what I do because I feel like it. The best answer is that I do what I do because I have to. A personal obligation, a personal duty, is the best justification for doing anything worthwhile. Think of the geologist who has a bit of moon rock under his microscope for the first time. Is there any doubt in his mind about the value of what he is doing? Or think of the ballet dancer who will undergo enormous physical effort to tell a mythic story of human legend by describing it in space with his own body.
Without negating anyone's perception and faith in deity, I keep returning to a humanistic philosophy in my thinking. We are capable of some of the most extremes forms of stupidity and destruction. But we are also capable of amazing beauty, greatness and genius.
Maybe there is no fundamental law of existence, but life is there to experience and to fashion for ourselves and others in the best way we can.
What is life? Who knows? I like this quote from Grandma Moses “Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.”
DB - The Vagabond