Is there joy in life?
I spent a lifetime in the pursuit of safety and health. Saving lives have been a popular subject every since I can remember. We trained in saving people from accidents, in making safe places, healing, keeping people from any form of danger, including disease and dangerous habits. We educated people to lead a healthy lifestyle. A big part of my job was to incorporate fun into doing healthy activities. The aim always was to prolong life at any cost.
Right along with my efforts others were making efforts to provide more food, improved transportation, offer recreational activities and better living conditions for the people we live with. This was available often at the exclusion of others. In summary, we work all of our lives to prolong life and make it pleasant, but we always lose. In the end, everyone dies, and the others say, well, he or she lived a good life, or not. What does life consist of?
One can observe the big political debates of our time. I look at the last little while. There is a division in our society about the beginning of life. Should we or should we not allow abortions and how easy should it be to obtain them. Half of the people believe that it is a question of women being able to control their bodies while the other half sees abortions as the killing of unborn innocent babies. We have big debates about suicides also. Should we save people from ending their lives or should we let them do what they wish?
Many of us try to deal with life through a hazy lens of participating in intoxicating addictions. Life is going on in the same manner that it always did, but the individual gains false confidence from the use of a chemical which numbs the senses. I view it as cheating the brain.
What is life for most people? I see most people going to work each day grumbling about having to do it. People watch the clock to see when the day’s work is done and waiting eagerly for Friday when the work week is done. Kids go to school with the same attitude. They grumble about time spent in structured pre-determined activity and look forward to doing their thing.
People of past generations had to perform many tasks that we no longer do. Some of our parents and grandparents chopped wood, hauled water, made soap, sowed or knitted clothes and I can go on forever. When people began renting their lifetime for a paycheque, intellectuals wrote to the papers complaining about the loss of freedom.
Life is not a journey from the cradle to the grave. What people want from life is a very important question, central to our being. What happened in the past is mostly irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what we are doing now and how it will affect us from now onwards.
Some never realized that we live in a country where more people die from overeating than from lack of food, and eat their way to death. Others try to hide from life by playing games or inventing “make busy” projects. I know so many people who are afraid to exchange ideas or be politically incorrect so they meet others and immediately start playing games. Even worst, they discuss other people playing games and submerge themselves into “teams” which have nothing to do with them.
Often you may see a team, let's say hockey, which is “owned” by an individual from another place, playing in some city. Most or all of the players are from other places. Yet people from that city and surrounding areas talk as if they are playing the game. Someone in a town in southern Alberta is cheering when the Calgary Flames score a goal and shouting, “we scored” and crying when an opposing team scored blaming them for cheating.
We have a life but what is the point? Is it to consume? Do I have more pleasure from a “Big Gulp” than I used to get from a “regular size drink?” Am I less fulfilled if I don’t tell all my friends that I have spent a month in a tropical tourist trap last winter? I truly don’t think so.
Life is still what it always been. It is a day in which I am aware that I exist, regardless of how much services and goods I was able to consume. If I live begrudging the past, blaming it for my misfortunes, I live in misery. If I live a day trying to protect myself from all the unpleasant possible happenings that I observed others suffer, I have a sad existence. I can spend the day of life unhappily and go to sleep expecting another miserable day tomorrow, and it will happen. Most of life takes place in our heads and is a reflection of our thoughts.
Another option is available to me freely. I get pleasure from caring for others. Making others feel good, have safe lives, be healthy and enjoy whatever possible, gives me more pleasure than taking care of myself and watching others suffer. I know that there are people who enjoy winning more than helping. Those are my natural enemies and I make an effort to ignore or stop them.
I honestly believe that there are more of us who get pleasure from loving than from winning. We have been fighting about this for 2019 years or more, and I think that the balance has shifted. I watch news from around the world and I see the people who worship selfishness lie, cheat and lose. Those who care outnumber them.
Anyone who wonders what is the meaning of life can work on having a good life, but will only be fulfilled when all have a good life. If we wish to have real happiness, we must achieve it for all people and the world we live in.