Philosophy and religion, in their truly infinite range and scope, have grappled with the question of what it is to be alive, furthermore, what it is to be human. They’ve wondered what or where is consciousness. They struggle with choice and free will. They’ve tried to order the universe or have even given it over to chaos.
The avid reader of philosophy is often blinded by the complexity, the tossing-about of multisyllabic, esoteric, arcane language, the seeming equally infallible logic of opposing viewpoints, and the ideology. What are the answers?
Let’s make one thing clear: I’m no sage. I am no genius and I do not claim to possess special knowledge. But so much of this is perhaps quite a bit simpler than the last 3,000 years or so of philosophy would have us believe.
We are here to do.
Wow! Do I get my Nobel Prize now?
I could leave it at that, but let’s examine the implications. If this is true, wouldn’t that imply that we are free to do? I think so. Ok, let’s give a round of applause to the existentialists. If we are here doing something, it would stand to reason that we exist, correct? Thank you Descartes, you are dismissed! You were so, so close. Let’s see, I think I am going to take a leap here and say that whatever we do exists in some sort of context. If what you do is drive a car, then you must exist in a society with cars and gas stations and driver’s licenses and roads and you probably have to go somewhere that isn’t within walking distance and presumably has a parking lot. Welcome to the party post-modernists.
Doing is what it is to be human.
But where does doing come from?
Here’s where things get a tricky. THEE calls it “Will.” But Will is a bit mysterious--as most origins are. It might be where consciousness meets biology. It could have something to do with the drive to survive. Really, it’s just a word that THEE uses to describe the source of creative energy and potential in people. Finding its location is not really important because we can all agree that it’s there somewhere. Every time you do something, anything, from the mundane to the triumphant, you’re using that energy, that potential.
Before you get to thinking that there’s some glowing, effervescent light emanating from you, just waiting to guide you to your own personal utopia, remember that Will is at the root of every human endeavor. That means great works of art as well as horrible crimes against humanity, acts of supreme kindness as well as terrible violence. Will is both creative and destructive.
Let’s say you’re a car (just go with it). Will isn’t in the driver’s seat; it’s more like the motor--providing blind and directionless energy. If everything is working properly, the energy is used for its intended purpose--to move the car. If things aren’t working properly, the destructive consequences could range from being stranded on a deserted freeway to pieces of metal are flying into the air while highly volatile liquid spews flames at innocent passersby.
I bet you’re wondering what (or who) is in the driver’s seat. Well, it is the elephant in the room. To start you off, check out the 7 realms of endeavor and we’ll talk about it more next week.
But as a sort-of lesson-of-the-week, if you can take anything away from this post, let it be that there is, in all of the complexities of life, something very simple, elegant, and mysterious at the root of what it is to be human, something beautiful that we all have in common. If we can understand it, and its implications, a better person and a better world could be possible.
- Tom Kershaw
- Hi! I'm Tom and I am a full-time writer, musician, and father to a firecracker of a four year-old. My wife and I lease our house and cars from her in hopes that her considerable talents of mess-making, princess-impersonation, and stuffed animal-whispering will pay off and fund our eventual retirement in the south of France.
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