Saturday, September 06, 2003

On life:

By: Michael Akerman

Blame it on my contemplative nature...

At any rate, thoughts on the nature of life have been creeping around my head for the past couple of days.

One of the greatest questions of all time is the meaning of life. In my opinion, the meaning of life is the quest for happiness.

Life is not about who has the most toys, or who makes their way into the history books. Life is about enjoyment. God did not put us on the Earth to spend our lives in a middle-management position because we can't get a better job.

Society has done a fantastic job of screwing up the quest for happiness. It's hard to say when it happened, but society requires success even from those who don't wish to have success (for the record, I'm not speaking of myself).

In my opinion, the ultimate societal system is the Brave New World system. Everyone is happy, the economy runs efficiently, all needs get are fulfilled, but not without enough challenge to maintain happiness. Of course, not many people go for engineering low-intelligence grunts to do manual work and limiting personal expression. Besides, the society kept making mistakes. First, Bernard was the biggest mistake. The technology was not perfected enough to guarantee that mistakes like him would not be made. Secondly, the Savage Preserves were a REALLY bad idea. They should have been assimilated into society. Sorry, I digress.

Life reaches no higher point than discovery. Many will argue with me that learning is not fun. I strongly disagree. I feel immensely sorry for any person who has never experienced the thrill of discovery. Many have been trained to dislike learning (largely because of school, which I think should be a voluntary system. But that's a subject for another post) because they were forced to learn, much like how I hate Dickens because I was forced to read Great Expectations (worst book ever). In the quest for happiness, the sciences are a permanent drug.

Speaking of drugs, many may argue with me that drugs, alcohol, parties, etc. are our best tools for happiness. This argument is fundamentally flawed. While all things are okay in moderation, drinking to the point of being drunk is pointless and wasteful. Drunkards claim they are happy, yet when it comes down to it, they are fooling themselves. By the time they are no longer drunk, their life is right back to normal. The same goes for drug addicts, and to a lesser extent partiers. People simply use these things as surrogates for living.

The only true life is achievement. I don't mean the traditional American achievement (money, fame, sex), but rather real achievement. The kind that people on their deathbeds think about when they say their life has been good. Friends, family, love, and happiness. No person will reflect happily on a life of parties as they lay dieing, but will almost assuredly regret it.
Achievement, depending on the person, may even include elements of American achievement. I, for one, count leaving a mark of humanitarianism and betterment of humanity as the greatest achievement of all.

I suppose there's not much more I can say about life for now.

~Michael Akerman, bothers me slightly that people will read this and think that they "knew" it because it's logical... hindsight bias... that's life ;)...