They tell us the driving force in life is the reproduction of genes. We’re all in competition, all trying to make sure our genetic line carries on. I’m not sure our genes are all that interested in maximizing our ability to buy a home in Switzerland.
I could be wrong, perhaps that comes under the gene selection for shelter and housing, but I don’t think so.
I do think there’s more to us than gene-spreading. I believe there’s a purpose to life beyond procreation, beyond trying to acquire the best and shiniest toys.
What are we supposed to be learning? Who are we supposed to be by the end of our time here?
People approaching the end of their lives appear to regret experiences they didn’t have and things they didn’t say. They rarely seem to regret not buying one more car.
Of course, all this navel-gazing does come from a place of privilege. I don’t have to worry about the necessities of life, nor do I have to worry overly-much about poverty, at least for the next few years. Many don’t have that luxury.
Which is not to say trying to figure out the whys of life is wrong. I think we should all be trying to understand life and God and science and the series finale of Lost. The real wrong is that not everyone is in a position to navel-gaze for themselves.
I don’t think we’re doing the best job as a species. We’re not really about equalizing things or ensuring we all move forward together. There’s too much competition and the distribution of resources is too unequal.
He who dies with the most toys wins. *
The competitive instinct likely served us well when resources were scarce. This is no longer the case. We mostly have distribution issues. Catering to and celebrating competitiveness is leading to unpleasant outcomes. An extremely stratified society likely won’t remain stable or healthy, for one.
The problem is we’re neither one thing nor the other. Neither completely rational nor completely instinctual.
I’m not advocating for the complete elimination of instincts. They did that in the movie Serenity and it didn’t end well. Everyone ended up dead.
We’ve changed some instinctive behaviours already, ones we’ve outgrown or evolved beyond. We need to recognize that some we still retain are a problem and push for a change. There’s a better choice than what instinct is insisting on.
But trying to convince slightly more than seven billion people that the way we’ve structured the world and the instinct we venerate no longer serves us is a big challenge. Especially when one doesn’t have a clear game plan for the way forward.
Just a belief that we have the potential to be better than this.
(The first of a couple of posts like this; our way of life has been on my mind.)
Aside from 42, what do you think the meaning of life is? Do you think about why we’re here?
*possibly Malcolm Forbes.