I think most of us would agree that life is full of suffering.
Most things happen by chance. And yet, we spend life wondering – What is perfection? What is happiness? How do i give my life meaning? And then we find a dream and kill ourselves trying to get there.
For others, there’s not even that chance. for others, life is spent trying to survive. and for what?
So I was inspired by this New Yorker article on anti-natalist David Benatar: “The Case for Not Being Born”
The case is that life is full of suffering. and we spend it trying to defend our children from suffering when the best case would have been to prevent it in the first place. That the gift of being a sentient being is truly a curse.
“While good people go to great lengths to spare their children from suffering, few of them seem to notice that the one (and only) guaranteed way to prevent all the suffering of their children is not to bring those children into existence in the first place”
And truthfully, it’s hard to defend against such a case.
There is so much suffering in the world. And all everyone is trying to do, is to make a case for themselves. A reason for being on this earth that makes all the suffering worth it. It’s why we seek simple pleasures or why we strive for the unattainable goals. Power and money and a belief that we are better than others. That somehow our life was worth a little bit more.
I mean in figuring out the question, what would make me happy, I’m really trying to answer the question, what makes my life worth it? Ironically, a lot of people have kids because that becomes their reason for being.
I don’t have a good answer to “is life truly a gift”, but I wonder if there’s a way to use this line of thinking to better humanity.
The thing is, at least in the US based society, no matter how much you care for others, your first priority is your family, your children, giving them the best that you can and giving away the leftovers if you feel that you have enough. It’s a sentiment of self-preservation and security first and then maybe, just maybe, if you’re feeling generous enough. Even charity is interesting because those who give often take away a good feeling for themselves, that we were generous, that we provided for others. It’s nearly impossible to commit a selfless act.
Perhaps there is a way to ignite a culture of being selfless and to incorporate this into our daily lives beyond what I would call “leftovers”. A shift in frame of mind I suppose. One way would be to somehow boost the power of giving where the “good feeling” that you get from giving is somehow worth significantly more than the good you get from spending on yourself. The other way, which is significantly more difficult, is to somehow get people to care about strangers the way they would care about their own family. I mean, what is it about blood that makes one human’s life more important to us than another (I suppose I wouldn’t understand seeing as I’m not a parent). If we had that perspective though, we would never let others be homeless or to sit in the conditions of prison, or to be refused entry into a country. There must be a way to shift a society’s perspective so that the security of others is closer to being equated with the security of ourselves and our families.
I don’t know what it is. And to be quite honest, I don’t even come close to that level of selflessness. But there must be a way.