Sunday, April 24, 2011

We Don't Matter - A Reflection on Accepting Ourselves

It is true, that we don't matter, individually.  There are varying levels of generality that get us to the point of mattering more or less, but on a whole, I think it is hugely freeing to realize how little we matter individually.  Nobody cares what I think (or you, unless you pull some strings I don't know about) regarding the situation in Libya.  We're irrelevant in a whole host of ways.

When we're convinced that our opinions matter, we strenuously defend them.  We mostly do this when we're in the market for attracting someone.  Our opinions do matter greatly when we're showing other people that we do or do not align with how they also perceive the world.  To my deep frustration, this wasn't clear to me until just a few months ago. 

You like to masturbate republican ethos until you cream out of your ears?  Great!  That doesn't mean you're a good or bad person.  You might not even know what kind of person you are.  I guarantee that the belief system is protecting something valuable, some belief, or some principle.  We're much much more emotionally engaged with our view points about the world than we are rationally engaged with them--that's not always bad.  It just isn't always good either. 

Religion is a way mediate our divided selves.  I realized that this morning sitting in church (and don't judge me for going to church, or for not going, either!  Or, strike that, judge whatever you want.  It is probably all true anyway). Divided selves want things that don't sit well together: to have a girlfriend and casual sex and a wife, for instance.  To have a drink and not become an alcoholic, to eat a lot of fried food and to stay thin.  Of course, we all want to be thin, not be an alcoholic, and not cheat on our significant others--but, check it out: over-eating, and cheating, and boozin', at least, they're like hugely popular past times for us all!  We love a good affair and a french fry and a beer.  I don't think this is coincidence.  I think it is very predictable behavior.

There's one thing that's very true: we need meaning in our lives.  We need it like nothing else.  And our minds are very good at telling stories, even when there's no story at all!  That's how we measure intelligence, too, pattern recognition.  It can go haywire, though.  There's all sorts of people that think a lot of stuff is happening when it isn't happening. They need meaning too.  It isn't nice to face meaninglessness.  BUT, if we can face it, and accept that we don't matter that much, perhaps we don't need to feel anxious about how important our decisions are.  Perhaps we can let go a little bit and just ride it out for a while, and not try to hold on to all time in some crystal vase.

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