What a cliche question right?
Who even asks this question any more? Who has the guts, the temerity, the utter gaul to even pretend that they can ask this question and get some kind of answer that makes sense. Our culture has slid off into a "wonderful" post modern way of thinking. We have resigned ourselves to a mindset that there may not be any meaning out there at all and if there is then we cannot know it. We have done that because, in our minds, to claim that we know the meaning of life is somehow arrogant, or makes us seem like we believe ourselves better than other people. Thank you Nietzsche (Nietzsche was a philosopher who had the idea that ALL truth claims were power plays. That whenever someone says they know the truth it is because they are seeking to exercise some kind of power over you via that claim. I can talk more about that at another time) but it is due to this kind of thinking that any claim to larger knowledge beyond the measurable facts of the human existence are looked at as suspect and Subjective. "Well that's true for YOU". This causes a problem. Human beings are not content to simply know or experience without sharing. It is just a fact of human existence. If we know we must share. If we experience we must retell and relate. Our understanding of each moment comes from reflection and discussion. When we fall in love we proclaim it from a mountain top! When we see a good film or eat at a great restaurant we have to let someone know. This quintessential human need is why social media is full of pictures of entrees, pets and children. It is in the sharing that we gain perspective and validation for what we have known and or experienced.
When it is arrogant and possibly offensive for us to share a point of view on something then we will cease to seek knowledge of that thing. That is because, in the human heart, having knowledge of a thing is not as pleasurable as having AND SHARING the knowledge of a thing. The knowing is valuable but the SHARING is the true payoff.
So we have created the communal waters in which we all swim. We all desire meaning. There is no one on the planet that would not be offended if you told them they exist for no purpose. (Yes there are people who would SAY they agree but demonstrate to them that you honestly have no regard for their existence and they will change their tune immediately.) Every human being believes in their inner most being that their existence is important, if only to themselves. That knowledge will inexorably lead to the question - "WHY is my existence important?" In these "communal waters" we are allowed to seek an answer but we are NOT allowed to FIND one. We are encouraged to seek and find one for ourselves, but not to expect that this truth goes outside of ourselves. I remember Jack Palance in "City Slickers" the 90s cowboy film with Billy Crystal, holding up his one finger, "one thing", he said when asked what the meaning of life was. The implication was that we need to find out what that "one thing" was for ourselves. It could be anything. It would be different for everybody. That kind of thinking leads to dark and foolish places. When my existence creates and defines its own worth, and that definition can only be known and experienced by me, then there is no reason for me to value anyone else unless they add value to me.
Either life has a meaning and purpose that lies outside of life itself OR it doesn't. If life has meaning and purpose outside of itself then I can seek and find that meaning and I can share with others what that meaning IS. If life does not have meaning and purpose outside of itself then no one should be offended when I do not value their life, because it is not mine.
I want to call for a return to the question - "what is the meaning of life?" Not "what is the meaning of life for you", but what IS it? Objectively.
I believe I am beginning to understand the answer to that question, and I will begin to share it. In future posts.
hint: It might have something to do with God... and Romans 11:36...
Romans 11:36 - For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen NLT