Gordon Robinson | Why you were born
If ever a Johnny Nash song came to life, it was resurrected by Booklist Boyne's wanton waste of column space on Sunday, June 11.
There are more questions than answers
Pictures in my mind that will not show.
There are more questions than answers
and, the more I find out, the less I know.
Yeah, the more I find out, the less I know
I counted. In a column about the meaning of life, Booklist asked eight questions. He answered none. He didn't even try. He quoted Shakespeare and boasted of reading books on philosophy from he was 15 (precocious little chap, wasn't he?) and "existentialists like Camus, Sartre, and Nietzsche". He listed books by Armstrong, Tolstoy (whose quote added four more unanswered questions), Marcus Aurelius, T.J. Mawson, and Bertrand Russell (whose philosophy was famously 'When I die, I rot'). He had a ball.
But, for a man who has allegedly read so much on the topic; has been "thinking about it since I was a teenager"; and had just churned out more than 1,300 words purportedly on the meaning of life, I find it incredible that not one single opinion on life's meaning came from Booklist Boyne's pen. Readers who painstakingly parsed his pedantic prose, anxious to discover life's meaning (or at least Booklist's view on it), ended up with a bad case of 'blue balls', as frustration and disappointment were their only rewards.
How much longer is Booklist to be allowed to masquerade as an opinion leader without an opinion? Until a cure to this Boynesian virus is found, I'll try to relieve his readers' acute dissatisfaction. First, there's no mystery or magic to philosophy. A philosopher is simply a person who thinks clearly and stubbornly refuses to obfuscate. No philosopher would waste 1,300 words saying nothing.
Anybody can be a philosopher, even if only part-time. Find a secluded place (I recommend the Tushy) and think your problem through without emotional clutter or religious dogma. Bingo! You're a philosopher.
I've asked the question time and time again:
Why is there so little love among men?
But what is life?
How do we live?
What should we take and how much should we give?
So, let's see if we can think this 'meaning of life' thingy through together. Most of us believe in creation of some kind (how it all began), whether by God or the Universe itself (Big Bang). Maybe God arranged the Big Bang. Or maybe the Universe IS God. It matters not. That we're here for a purpose is unanswerable for the simple reason that nobody does anything without purpose no matter how frivolous.
There's no doubt, to clear thinkers who study the history of man, that man created God in man's image as a way to rationalise man's existence. We know this because nobody has ever seen God and man existed on the Earth for aeons before God was even mentioned. Every scripture from which man learnt of God's existence was written by man. Because man created God doesn't make God any less real just as because one is paranoid, it doesn't mean everybody ISN'T out to get you. So, let's compromise, in our thought process, with the religious factions among us, and propose that man DISCOVERED God.
'BELIEF KILL AN' BELIEF CURE'
God is real because we believe. Old-time Jamaican seh, 'Belief kill an' belief cure,' so we can add to that recipe, belief create. We believe God created the Earth and populated it. Why? The Church, anxious to pull in massive weekly crowds and fill their begging bowls, preaches that man was created to worship God, but this conflicts with the Church's definition of God as omnipotent not needy. Why'd an omnipotent God go to all this trouble just to create worshippers?
It follows that God must've had a good reason for all this work, after which even He/She had to rest for a whole day. This wasn't exercise for exercise's sake. This was something that God needed. But, again, what would an omnipotent God need without it making Him/Her needy? Every concept of God describes Him/Her as all-knowing. But is this state of absolute knowledge enough? If God just is, how does God proceed beyond knowing to feeling, proving, seeing? How does such a Being actually Be (not just exist), as we know humans being (or what we call human beings)? If God is absolute knowledge, how would God experience the reality of that knowledge? How does God experience anything?
Elementary, my dear Watson. God creates an experiential reality and populates it with little pieces of Himself/Herself to experience reality/relativity. These mundane concepts are incompatible with God's absolute existence. So God is completed, through us, by experiences on Earth (whatever they may be), after which we return to rejoin God. Thus the circle is unbroken. We're sent by God through birth so God experiences His/Her knowledge as reality, after which we return to God through death to complete the circle of Being. That's when we re-member (re-join) Who We Really Are - little pieces of God completing His/Her Being by experience.
Now that we've thought clearly about this, let's answer Booklist's questions without obfuscation:
Q: Why were you born?
A: To experience reality. Birth is the process by which God sends pieces of Himself/Herself from God's existence to God's creation.
Q: How can anyone live without asking himself that fundamental question?
A: Elementary, my dear Booklist. If we all were born identical, our experiences would be identical. God must experience EVERYTHING about 'reality', hence the added tool (no batteries required) of free will. Some will ask, some won't.
Q: What should I value?
A: Value experiences, Booklist, of every kind. Learn from them. Don't confuse one year's experience in one field repeated 30 times to be 30 years' experience. Don't be one-dimensional. Go ye forth and experience.
Q: How can we not be haunted by the view that it's all meaningless?
A: Because we know NOTHING is 'meaningless', properly so called.
However frivolous or malevolent, everything has meaning. We must work out what that meaning is. Something or some confluence of events went to a lot of trouble to create us. 'Meaning' is guaranteed
Q: That our pursuits are purely arbitrary?
A: Nope. Since we've decided we're here for the experiencing of a relative world (good/bad; light/dark; happiness/sadness, etc), then even our allegedly 'arbitrary' experiences are important. Now God experiences what 'arbitrary' FEELS like. We must experience arbitrariness in order to be able to recognise logic.
Q: That no accomplishment of ours really has any ultimate value?
A: 'Accomplishment' is proof of experience - itself the purpose of life. The 'value' is in the experience.
Now to answer Tolstoy's questions:
Q: Sooner or later, my affairs, whatever they may be, will be forgotten and I shall not exist. Then why go on making any effort?
A: Because every effort involves experience, which is why you're here. It may be that your 'affairs' will be forgotten on Earth (unlikely), but they'll remain of use as experiences completing the circle of Being that is God.
Q: How can man fail to see this and go on living?
A: Man shouldn't see 'this' because 'this' is wrong (see previous Q and A). 'Going on living' is why 'man' is here. We come to be who we really are through experience followed by rejoinder with God. The more (experience), the merrier.
Q: To what end (THIS is the most important question)?
A: To complete God's Being by adding experience to knowledge. To Be (who we really are) which isn't possible with knowledge alone. THIS is why we must love our neighbour as ourselves.
Existentially, we ARE our neighbour.
Johnny Nash, an American pop singer of the 1960s, became a pivotal force behind the mainstream acceptance of reggae with the international success of his 1972 chart-topper I Can See Clearly Now which included the cut, There are more Questions than Answers. Nash came to Jamaica in the late 1960s because of a connection between his girlfriend and seminal radio DJ Neville Willoughby. He fell in love with the music and made it his own.
Peace and love.
- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.