The answer to life, the universe and everything is 42 as Douglas Adams once famously wrote in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The enormous computer built to undertake the gargantuan task of calculating the answer was aptly named "Deep Thought" and took 7 1/2 million years to process the query all of which makes me wonder it was a PC rather than a Mac.
As profound or as nonsensical the final answer might mean to us, I can't help but find our struggles with questions that have remained generally unanswered with us since we evolved the ability to think rationally, abstractly and conceptually most fascinating, terrifying and the ultimate reflection of ourselves.
As humans we share many things, our lives are interwoven with each other, we share resources, we grow up together, we love, we fight with each other, we save each other, we die together and through all of this we are attracting and gravitating towards societal groups based on a gloriously heady mix of socio-economic, biological, intellectual, ideological and often arbitrary rules.
We strive for connection, we look to belong.
How each of us satisfies this yearning reflects how we view the world and as we bind together like metal to a magnet we enjoy the benefits that come with feeling that we matter, knowing that we are of worth to ourselves and others. Of course, as we all know, there is a corresponding trough of woe to the peak of joy this "wave" provides.
When I was a child of no more than 6 or 7 my elementary school teacher decided to take it upon himself that I was to become right-handed.
Now, dear reader, I'm sure you have observed that the above is a small example of the sense of entitlement, the inerrant formation of opinion that people can develop when the sense of belonging to a particular societal group becomes nothing more than a projection of the darker side of our nature. Left or Right, black or white, male or female, Christian or Muslim, Yankee or Redneck, Porsche or Smart Car driver, Pro this Anti that, Chocolate or Pistachio, Early Elvis or about to order that triple decker burger while on the commode Elvis, we all are capable of slipping down the slope of righteous indignation wrapped in a blindfold of mistrust and served with extreme prejudice upon our enemies with the sponsored backing of our like minded peers.
Luckily, thanks to Douglas Adams, the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was a galactic Fodor's guide emblazoned with the words "Don't Panic" in friendly lettering and I feel I can now humbly offer my advice to the people of the world. How often have you heard the phrase "freedom isn't free" which, I have no doubt, is a derivative of Thomas Jefferson's (say goodbye to him Texas) famous quote "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance"? More often than not it's applied in the sense of tyranny among peoples and nations, the patriotic eyes of watchful citizens securing our borders from the Japanese, the Germans, the Communists, Al Qaeda, Donny Osmond or whoever is the real or perceived boogieman of the era.
Here is a perfect opportunity to do what might seem odd - to think smaller and apply the sentiment of Jefferson's words to our own deeds as individuals. In vigilance I read balance and this should be the cornerstone of each and everyone lives. We must strive everyday to see life from the perspective of those who are not as similar to us, we must make a conscious decision to listen to what others have to say, to agree that each of us as human beings has an innate worth even if we are in absolute disagreement, even if your gut screams in abhorrence of the antithesis in human form put before you. If balance could become the mantra that resonates within us all, I feel, we would see greater compassion, a depth of understanding of each other not seen before, far less diametrically opposed hatred of others and, dare I say it, we would be more happy within our own lives.
It's probably obvious by now that I belong to the "hopelessly and possibly naively hippie and optimistic people who can't provide any real practical solutions but would love to give you all a great big hug" group of souls but you know what? It's ok...
I feel connected. I belong.
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