Monday, September 27, 2010

football field of life

Reason is the slave of the passions.

Our passions motivate us, determine what is worthwhile and what is not in our lives.

We generate purpose in our lives by committing to goals that we find worthwhile and meaningful. The degree to which one is successful in
achieving these goals will often determine one's general state of satisfaction and contentment with life.

Imagine a large field of grass. The empty field represents our existence. Now imagine that someone has imprinted a football field using chalk on this field of grass. The football field represents one particular framework of meaning, let's take religion for example. Religion generates the rules and milestones that one follows and lives by in this field of "life". Through this framework of meaning, one is given the purpose for our existence--to get to the end-zone and make a touchdown--and if you apply it to our religion example, to become saved, live a religious life, and go to the heaven in the end. Now, imagine that it started to rain and the chalk was washed away and now we're left with a field of empty grass again. The rain represents modernity--our realization that this particular framework of meaning that worked so well for so long now has become weakened as a result of competing frameworks of meaning brought on by science, globalization, and capitalism. We humans cannot be truly content without a framework of meaning that gives our lives direction, value, and purpose. We need to imprint another "football field" on this field of grass so we can start playing the game of life again.

The modern age is unique in that we don't have to accept the framework of meaning that we get when we're born into a certain family, religion, and culture. We can find and accept new frameworks of meaning, each with their own particular set of goals, values, and status hierarchies. I think in the end, it's a reflexive process where we guide and are guided by, to a framework of meaning that we end up accepting.

The football field is imprinted with chalk because these frameworks of meaning are ultimately based on faith. There are by no means permanent, unchanging, and most importantly, true. Faith makes it us, but not to everyone. Nevertheless, faith is essential. Without faith, meaning is not possible. The idea that reason is superior to faith is nonsense. Faith is the master of reason--because faith determines what we consider valuable and true. Reason only after, gives us the rationale for what faith has already decided.

Why then you ask, do most of us desire and want the same things: money, power, status, success, love...if we all have different systems of meaning? Each family, nation, religion, and culture has a different system of meaning, however small or large the differences between them. The reason why most of us want the same things is because we humans, all share the same biology. Our biology in my opinion determines most of what we desire in life, that is: pleasure, power, status, success, love. But we have the power to override our biological urges. We have consciousness and culture. That's where things start to get complicated.

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