Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Meaning of Life, Explained Through Cliches and Blog Shout-Outs

Sometimes, I read blogs other than my own. And sometimes, other bloggers, by sharing their thoughts, make me think my own thoughts. This, I think, is part of the point and magic of blogging.

KevBo recently pondered (and followed up on) what it means to be successful. We agree - as I think most (but apparently not all) people would - that it ain't just about money. OK, in our world, a certain amount of money is required to have a roof over our heads and not starve to death. And when there's still some left over, sure, spend it on fun things. But money alone is not going to lead to what I'd call success.

We all want to be successful in some way, so asking about success is really asking about the meaning of life. And although it may seem like shallow hedonism, I can't see any way around the belief that the purpose of life is simply to be happy.

I can only tell you what makes me happy, but I don't think I'm all that different than most other people. Real, long-term happiness, it's all about other people. It's about having family that you stick with and who stick with you. It's about having friends that are as important as family. It's about finding people who you can connect with, who you can effortlessly engage with
in a flow of words and thoughts
and feelings, who you can be yourself around with none of the fakeness that can, unfortunately, permeate everyday social interaction. And if you're lucky, it's about finding one of those people, and making that connection even deeper.

Other things are important too. Music. Creating new things. Learning about and understanding the world. Sex. But I think these are all proxies for connections with other people. Here is where I summarize and come to the biggest cliche of all. It is all about love.

I don't care if that's been said a million times and doesn't mean anything any more. Make it mean something, because it's still true.

Which is why it pains me to see my dear friend/enemy Dani write, without a hint of sarcasm, that what the world needs is a little more hate. What she says may even seem plausible on the surface - maybe we should hate things like rape, child abuse, and evil in general. But I see at least three things wrong with that: 1) I think that, pound for pound, love for good is going to motivate action more than hate for evil; 2) Hate tends to rot the hater from the inside. It also tends to spill over onto targets that weren't originally hated. So does love, but there ain't nothing wrong with excess love.

Now I'll leave the safe path of cliches and go to a place where you may find disagreement. If you do disagree, cool, let me know. 3) I don't think hating people who do evil will do any good. Even the worst of them. Hate what they've done, sure, and keep them from doing it again at all costs - but to hate the people themselves will only amplify the world's supply of evil. I know that love and hate are two sides of the same coin - the more love for the victim, the more hate for the wrongdoer. But I really believe that if that coin stays hate-side down, the world would be better off for it. After all, how many organizations fueled by hate have done good things for humanity? How many wars based on hatred (either recent or stemming from ancient myth and tradition) have made the world a better place?

Most importantly: hate leaves less room for love. Love is success. Love is the meaning of life.

I've gotten wordy and tangenty, so I'll stop. But thanks, all you blogger people out there, for making me think a bit, even if only in cliches. I LOVE YOU GUYS.


tornwordo said...

Aw, we love you too. I read another interesting why-I-blog post over here:

Dead Robot said...

I would argue that WWII was the fore bringer for some pretty cool stuff like atomic rocket ships to Mars.

Seriously, hate sucks. Patton Oswalt has a great line to a heckler in one of his CDs: "You're going to miss everything cool and die angry".

Anonymous said...

Although I appreciate the honest nature of the post I have to say that the best part of the entire thing is just the random (yet perfectly placed) mention of Sex.