If I had any readers in the past who might still be around, they may be saying, “Where have you been?” The answer: I’ve been here but perhaps not creating anything special. This new posting was prompted by a classmate of mine who sent all of us in the class of ’54 a letter suggesting that we write what we have learned about the meaning of life. He offered his contribution, and I thought I would offer mine – on this blog – in a form that may seem somewhat elliptical, but that’s about all I can offer, for now. It seems so presumptuous for one unschooled in philosophy to talk about the meaning of life. It must be a topic well explored by minds greater than ours. But I’ll write a little on The Meaning of Life – It Seems to Me – Right Now!
We come into this world with very powerful needs to survive. These needs are taken care of by family and the community initially. But we’re still Paleo-Indian in our basic orientation; the Paleo-Indians had to take care of themselves at an early age, and narcissism was born in this need to survive (long before the Paleo-Indians, by the way). If we were only narcissistic, however, we humans would have never survived. We needed community and mutual support. The basic difference between men and women is crucial here, because women (most of them, anyway) are far more community-support oriented than men. So we have families, and nurturing, and community – all thanks to woman’s genes (again driven by Darwinian pressures – the survival, given environment pressures, of the fittest). Basically men are driven to compete and excel (with some allowances for group action and support; note our exuberance around teams and sports) and women are driven to nurture and protect each other and their children.
Sometime past middle age, if they are fortunate, men begin to see that there’s more to it than trying to compete and excel. Maybe it comes when they can’t really do it any more – the younger ones are quicker, faster, seem smarter; competition is really hopeless, although some older men can hold onto dominance based on the power they have obtained and their verbal magic, not on their physical abilities. We – the men – begin to have our eyes open to the need to nurture, protect, defend, and help prosper, not just our own families, but others in the community, and hopefully in the broader community of the world. Men also are finally beginning to see the need to protect and nurture the environment that we, over the centuries, have savaged. Women have been doing the nurturing all along, but it has generally been restricted to family and community (I suspect problems here if any women read this). Wisdom for both men and women may come when they see the needs of people everywhere and of the environment everywhere and actively do what they can to nurture and preserve this extraordinary world we live in. The meaning of life may be incorporated in the wisdom that sometimes comes with aging.
Parenthetically, Wikipedia notes that at least 8 countries possess nuclear weapons. Some of these are armed and I assume can be directed to almost anywhere in the world. Isn’t this insanity? This is not part of our acquired wisdom. It might be seen as a residual curse of narcissism. May God help us!