We live in a world without a moral absolute. No; there are moral absolutes, for some, but these are often seen to be inadequate, false, misguided. In fact, people with moral absolutes appear suspicious; they smack of extremism. Certainty is a characteristic of the terrorist, the evangelist, the holy warrior.
Where there was once an unquestioning belief, sat so deep in our culture that its meaning remained unquestioned, in the existence of a god, or gods, superior power external to us in the face of which we were powerless, unimportant, now there is left a vacuum.
Now, the very idea of unquestioning faith leaves many of us worried. We who lack that faith. With this loss of faith, of a religious foundation to our being and the possibility of knowing right from wrong, comes a shadow into our lives; how can we be good? How can we know that we are doing the right thing? How can we judge the choices and decisions of others which effects us?
If our lives have any meaning insofar as they exist, this meaning is ethical. To be human is to be aware of the need to face others – to actually face others – and engage in a way which is profoundly moral. The meaning of what we are is to be found in the way we face others and in what we do in that facing.
The questions we ask about what it means to exist are tied inextricably with the questions of what it means to be good, to do right, to add to the net value of the universe, rather than to take away from it. We want to know, with more clarity, what goodness is, what right doing is, what is positive. (Add and subtract, positive and negative, are simple enough ideas, but they contain implied value as well; this needs to be resolved at some point).
Why do I make this claim? Because it seems that to ask such questions about the meaning of being is to ask how we can be of worth. We can understand who, what we are; we can understand the difficulty of facing others and being for them open to their meaning; but we do not easily comprehend the value of our existence.
To ask ‘What is the meaning of life?’ is, therefore, actually to ask ‘What is the value of (my) life?’ We seek a way of placing value on our existence and our actions. this is a key to the project.
As always, be loved.