“Suppose for a moment, that we define a virtuous act as bowing in the direction of Mecca every day at sunset. We attempt to persuade everyone to perform this act. But suppose that instead of relying on voluntary conviction we employ a vast number of police to break into everyone’s home and see to it that every day they are pushed down to the floor in the direction of Mecca. No doubt by taking such measures we will increase the number of people bowing toward Mecca. But by forcing them to do so, we are taking them out of the realm of action and into mere motion, and we are depriving all these coerced persons of the very possibility of acting morally. By attempting to compel virtue, we eliminate its possibility. To be moral, an act must be free.”
Going through life, questioning whether or not you are a “good” person, is the wrong question to ask. “Am I happy” is a more important question. “Have I cared for someone” has the potential to treat your own happiness as always less important than that of others to the point of your own happiness not being important at all. The fact that loving someone makes you happy is the part that is not stressed. Loving someone brings you joy. That is the main point. If the main point is for me to give love to someone else, then that must mean their main point is to give love to me. Who in the fuck is able to accept it and enjoy it? Therefore, that is important and crucial to the whole idea of “love”: accepting it and enjoying it for oneself.
Love is treated as a commandment instead of just being natural. And that’s the problem.
Sitting around waiting for death is a horrible way to live. I do not believe that God put us here to “test” us. I think He put us here just because He wanted us to be here. I don’t know “why“, but I don’t think it was to test us. I think it was more like “Hey, I want to create something that can enjoy something. Here you go, humans. Here’s LIFE.”
I was introduced to the concept of “evil” at a very young age. It was introduced to me through religious conservatism, as well as through television news. Both were saturated with incessant talk of evil things that people were doing all around the world. When my religion taught me that I was evil, when I watched “the news”, I equated my evil with their evil. I equated myself to the murderers on the television, even though I hadn’t killed anyone. If we’re all lost as sinners, then who cares about comparisons?
Just thinking about evil is exhausting. There is no way to create a perfect man. How do we “measure” ourselves as good? Or, better yet, is there value in measuring how “good” we are?
In the past, I would’ve said “Yes”. I measured my good (as well as the good of the whole world) to see who among us, including myself, was going to Heaven. But I never knew what that amount of good needed to get into Heaven was. But I measured away anyway, completely dissatisfied, as the only result I came up with was that “None of us are good enough.”
Well, my religious beliefs have changed over time. And so have my ideas about “good”. But evil still bugs me. I still notice it everywhere. I seem to notice it all of the time. I don’t think it is really possible to ignore it. Throughout the day, I think everyone will, at least one time throughout that day, say “Damn. That isn’t right.” Evil is simply too prevalent to ignore. Sure, when we’re playing with our kids, or reading a book, we aren’t thinking about someone getting raped or murdered in the world. But surely it’s happening. There will be no “end” to it until we die.
Since none of us are sure when we are going to die, and surely we don’t want to think about death constantly, what do we have to look forward to? Why does “looking forward” matter? What do we have but to “look forward”? We look forward as well as looking back. We pleasantly reminisce about the past, while being thankful for getting passed the negative times. We dread the future, while looking forward to what we believe we will enjoy about it. There’s no “constant settling point” with regards to the past and the future (besides the fact that we are alive in the present). There’s no “perspective” that ultimately takes precedent. The past, the present, and the future engage all of our minds. But there’s something special to be said about “moving on”. To hoping. And to just being thankful. You can’t be thankful for anything when your whole life is spent anxiously lamenting and condemning the lack of perfection in the present. Sadly, even this can be taken over by anxiety. There’s nothing that anxiety can’t ruin. It’s a shame.
I should state that, once again, I’m not against lamentation completely. Of course, I’m not completely (there’s that word again) against anxiety. Both serve important functions. But there’s a difference between compassionately bringing up a serious subject that needs attention, and being an asshole about it that no one wants to listen to (being an asshole, I should know this). The latter ultimately boils down to a fear of the lack of “perfection”. I think, ultimately, the motivation comes into play, as well as the “soundness” of one’s argument when one brings up an issue. Is it objectively an issue? That should be argued. After that, why are you bringing up the issue? That should be discussed as well. After those are discussed, it can then be determined whether or not the issue being put on the table is worth “tackling”. Even with this, there will, ultimately, be breakdowns in communication, as ends will conflict with ends, means will conflict with means, etc.
My solution to this is: do what you want. If you want to argue, then argue. If you don’t, then don’t. One can try to bring to the attention of others as many wrongdoings as one can. My measurement is “However many one wants to”. Does it bring you some sense of joy to bring a problem to light? Do you receive something from it psychologically? If so, bring it up. But if you do not gain anything from it, I think the whole situation is fruitless. The nurse that tends to others as a “duty” without getting any pleasure from caring for others is missing the point of her helping others. Of course, they are being helped. That’s important. But the issue is: why wouldn’t that bring one joy? That is the even deeper issue at hand. If one is compassionate, wouldn’t helping others out bring that person joy? (Personal Happiness as a Virtue).
I’m not being stabbed right now. That’s a good thing. I focus on doing things in the present. And that’s what we all do. We all go through our day, working our jobs, reading books, doing a whole range of actions without thinking of the people getting violently attacked throughout the world.
Many would see this as a bad thing. Many people spend their whole lives pointing out these wrongs. Indeed, I would have to say I’m included among these “Hey, this is bad” pointer-outers. Should it not be the case that each and every single one of us should point out each and every single wrongdoing that we are aware of constantly? Wouldn’t this be a good thing?
In the first place, most “moral” ideas never take into account man’s limited nature. Man has to sleep. Poop. I’m not going to be able to help a man getting stabbed while I’m asleep. Nor when I’m pooping. What if the murder is happening hundreds, if not thousands of miles away? What if I have to poop? Not only that, but even if I didn’t have to poop, am I really to fly all the way around the world, only to risk my own life to save someone else? I’d certainly find it noble if someone decided to do that themselves. But should I do it for the “overall good”?
I have reasons for not flying to Africa to help out, for example, someone getting murdered, or for not flying anywhere to help out anyone suffering any kind of injustice. Why? Well, I don’t want to spend the money on a plane ticket. Nor drive to the airport. Figure out where I’m going to stay once I got to wherever I was going. Not to mention, I’d, more than likely, be putting myself in danger. What if I, for example, get kidnapped? Who will help me? My point is that when it comes to “good” and “action”, there has to be some other way to think about it besides the “perfection” attitude: that everyone must spend all of their time and energy to combating every injustice in the world all at once until every justice is eliminated. That is impossible. But, more importantly, I don’t want to do it.
This, of course, does not mean that I am completely against helping out people in need. I, personally, am not going to go out of my way to search for people in need (I commend those that do), but if I see someone get hit by a car, I’d, of course, have no problem with dialing 911. It isn’t that I’m against any person receiving help at all, but I am against an attitude of “moral perfection”. Words like “perfect”, “complete”, etc., really can’t be applied to humans; especially when “good” is involved (this, of course, does not mean that punishment should never happen).
I learned a long time ago that nobody is perfect (I don’t think I learned it in a particularly healthy way). But I was asked “WWJD (What would Jesus do?)” I was taught that I should live a “Godly” life. I spent much of my life being worried over “doing enough.” But enough is enough.
There comes a point when we have to accept our own limitations. I certainly don’t ever think we should say “Welp, that man raped that lady and stole her purse. Oh well. What are ya gonna do.” In an immediate circumstance, when one becomes aware of a wrong, it is certainly commendable to try to “right” the wrong. And there’s various different ways to go about trying to “right a wrong”. But the key to this and what I mentioned earlier is anxiety. Anxiety relating to “perfection”. Of course, it is perfectly natural to feel anxious if one witnesses an attack. But why do you feel anxious? You feel anxious for your own safety, anxious about the health of the one attacked, anxious about the safety of anyone else that may happen to run into the attacker, etc. Anxiety isn’t the problem, but why are we anxious, and what are we anxious about?
“Moralistically”, “good” must be done because one is unsettled by the lack of perfection or perfect good. Any philosophical axiom based on “perfection” must be rejected. We are not God. We don’t have the strength of Superman, the speed of The Flash, etc. Perfection is a destructive goal. It becomes counter-productive. The purpose of doing good is that…well, it is just good. It spreads good will throughout humanity. Compassion is natural and genuine. But the idea of “perfection” waters down “compassion”. Imagine you are a nurse. There are one-hundred seriously injured people under your care, all wailing out in immense pain. “Good perfection”, besides being the case in one definition that no one would ever suffer anything negative ever, would require you to be able to at least completely alleviate the pain of all one-hundred patients instantaneously. This simply isn’t possible. The “ultimate good” would be that no one ever experience pain. The “perfectly good” action would be helping everyone at the same time. But these are, quite obviously, impossible. Striving towards an impossible goal is pointless. Life is not about “the struggle”. “The struggle” just exists: we don’t have to manufacture it. In fact, our whole lives are spent alleviating “the struggle”. If “the struggle” is such a noble idea, why do we all spend so much time trying to relieve ourselves from it? We naturally hate our human condition. Conservatives exacerbate this problem by perverting the human condition, and telling us that we must enjoy it: that God is “testing our faith”, and that we should “be thankful for it”. That our suffering gives us credit that we later redeem to God when we die to get into Heaven. (In addition, according to these same conservatives, there’s a billion little things that will take away this “credit”. I think the fact that we all naturally hate “the human condition” says a lot about these perverted conservatives). Liberals exacerbate the problem of the human condition by striving for perfection to pursue the good. They equate compassion with perfection: if we don’t spend every hour of every day fighting poverty, rape, and racism, then we aren’t doing enough good. And, once again, “enough” is only a complete elimination of poverty, rape, and racism.
The problem, once again, is one of “perfection”, or “the perfect good”. “Perfection”, “completeness”, etc., are words that should not be part of one’s ethical vocabulary. One can never be “completely good”, or “perfect”. “Good”, “helpful” action should never be based on perfection, but should rather be accepted as they are: as “good”, and as “helpful”. One man being saved from starvation is good, even if there are countless others that are, at the same time, not being saved from starvation. We must not lose sight of “the good” simply because we can never achieve “perfection”.
Of course, it is true that, in the Christian belief, perfection is required to be saved from eternal damnation. But it is also true that, in the Christian belief, Christ died as a forgiveness of sins as this perfect requirement. That is Christianity. Christianity is “Perfection is required. Welp, here you go. With love.” That’s it. That’s the “extent” of the “perfection”. A nurse can’t alleviate the severe pain of one-hundred patients simultaneously. I suppose God could. But what if He doesn’t? What is the nurse to do? Should she sit around “believing” that she can simultaneously alleviate the pain of all at once? Or should she focus on each patient, one at a time, doing what she can with compassion?
The thing “to do” is what you want. Eat what you want, read what you want, do what you want. If you want to do evil (besides the fact that you’d do it whether or not you had my approval, or anyone else’s), people are going to want to bring you to justice. I think that is the ultimate point of all of this. Expecting everyone to be a sheriff, an executioner, etc., is impossible nonsense. It is an impossible “moral” goal. Someone will want to bring murderers to justice. Someone will want to be a nurse. The key word is “want”. People’s wants will find a way to meet people’s needs; whether people “want” to get paid, or “need” medical care, things find a way to get done. Never perfectly, nor completely, but they happen enough to be significant enough to garner well-deserved positive attention.
This diversity of values truly is a testament to how peaceful coexistence can happen at all. We’ll go back and forth, arguing over how to increase “the good” and decrease “the bad”, but a perfect, complete elimination of “the bad” will never work.
True compassion does not need an anxious duty to ignite action.
“Perfect love casts out fear.”
Humanity has an aversion to happiness, and I can’t figure it out. Conservatives tell you that holiness is more important than happiness (as sin can make one happy, and that leads to eternal damnation), and other people, generally unhappy, will tell you countless reasons as to why “There are more important things in life than being happy.” Taking care of your family, your job, etc. Any time you talk about happiness, what makes you happy, and how you plan on achieving it, a million people will give you a million reasons why you shouldn’t do it. Now, I’m not saying they shouldn’t. I’m not saying many of them do not bring up valid points. But the argument that happiness shouldn’t be the ultimate goal is, quite frankly, just wrong. I will go to my grave believing that we exist to be happy. I’m not saying we always will be happy. But we exist to attempt to maximize our happiness. We do things in an attempt to be “happy”. All action we take is an attempt to satiate some desire, whether it be to not be hungry, to not be bored, etc. And we desire to be full, to be entertained, etc., not only to live, but to be happy, as one who is depressed cares not for these things, but only to die, as one believes that will finally be an end to the sadness they feel (which, it should be clear, is the antithesis of happiness; so they are attempting to be happier than they are currently).
Everything we do on a regular basis is an attempt to bring us joy, even if only relative to a current state of being (for example, but by no means the only one, a “coping mechanism”).
We don’t exist to serve God if it makes us miserable (I explain my position on the relationship between religion and happiness later in this piece); we don’t exist to have a family if the thought of having kids makes us want to kill ourselves (if we don’t want to have a family, but do anyway, perhaps we’ll change our mind and care for the kids. But what if we don’t? What if we resent our children, and only create miserable kids and shitty adults? Is that the reason for our existence? Of course not); we don’t exist to be rich if we can never figure out how to obtain it. The only thing that makes sense is happiness. There is no other satisfactory reason why we act. We act to satiate desires. And we desire because…well, we just DO. We exist, we desire, and we act. This is what we do, every single day, for our entire lives. We act to satiate desires, and we desire to be happy above all else. I do not think this is deniable. What does one want besides being happy? And what answers could you provide that aren’t ultimately an attempt to make the one trying to achieve them happy? What could one possibly do that isn’t an attempt to satisfy some unmet desire, which would make one more content than they were before, i.e., happy?
Hell, even family is not a more important value than being happy. I’m not saying that families will always get along, or that they’ll always tell you what you want to hear. But if your family doesn’t make you happy more often than not, then FUCKING DITCH THEM (thankfully, I’m not in that position). If your family abuses you, then you don’t need your family. You may wish that they were “normal”, because you want to have them in your life to have a “happy family”, but just because you are related to someone doesn’t mean you need to keep them in your life if they make you miserable. If they abuse you, ditch them if you can. Your mental health is more important than some moralistic (perhaps religious) duty to family. It will then become your choice to figure out what you think will make you the most happy, and then go for it.
Every person has individual things that make them happy. And the point of life is to do those things as much as possible. “I’m unhappy at my job, Cody. Should I quit?” Obviously, you think that the job that you have will provide you better with what you want and need than would be the case without the job, as evidenced by the fact you are still working there. I’m not saying life is a perfect paradise, whereby we’re always perfectly happy. But all human action is an attempt to satiate desires, as stated so eloquently by Mises in “Human Action”, and although a satiated desire may not ultimately make one happy, one takes action in an attempt to be more happy than one currently is. For what does one do when one is happy? If you are happy with how much money you have, and are happy with the items that you have, are you going to earn, or spend? If you eat all of your food, you are not going to try to get more until you are hungry. And if being hungry bothers you, you will eat. If it doesn’t, then you won’t. The point is that contentment gives you no reason to act. And you will not act unless you believe that you will benefit from the action in some way; i.e., that the action will make you “happier” than you were before, with “happiness” being no longer hungry, bored, etc.
Let’s talk about some “vices” for a second. There’s a counterargument that life is more important than being happy: that living longer is more important than being happy (which is quite odd, when you think about it). What do I mean by this? Just take a look at the “healthy crowd”. People who are very conscientious of their health are quick to tell others to give up junk food, smoking, drinking, etc. Of course, it is perfectly plausible (and, in fact, likely) that these “health nuts” are happy with their lifestyle; and, indeed, are happier than they would be without it. I don’t doubt that for a second. However, although it is generally accepted that most people would rather live longer than shorter, it is clear that “health” and “a long life” is not the main concern with many individuals (as judged by the actions they take). Many people eat unhealthy, or smoke, or drink to excess, and although there are many of those who do those things and are distraught by them, and either eventually quit or try to quit with help from others, there are many who don’t. Many people don’t care about the consequences. Maybe they don’t fully recognize them. Or maybe it actually is worth it to them (an absolute possibility). The point is that not all go the “health route”, and it isn’t because these humans are broken. It is because each individual has his or her own “value scale” (credit to Murray Rothbard in “Man, Economy, and State” for the term), whereby certain things make them happier than others, and they act upon these intrinsic, personal values. And if they’re happy, the best you can do is tell them what it’s doing to them, and that you wish for them to live longer rather than shorter, and then, their action is out of your hands. They will either take your advice or not, and that is that. A “long life” is not an ultimate value to be held in higher regard than the individual happiness of people living their own lives: to suggest otherwise, even if it does make people live longer, is, ironically, inhumane.
Yeah yeah yeah, you can eat unhealthy, face the health consequences when you’re older, and say “Shit. I wish I would’ve taken care of myself.” But is that the path that all should take? As I said, to many, it seems as if taking care of your health should be the “ultimate” life goal. Even if smoking, or drinking, or eating fast food makes people happy, what they should care about is being healthy. But what kind of fucking life is it to live long if you’re unhappy? Who wants to live a long, unhappy life? Of course, “Maybe if you tried running”, “Maybe if you tried this or that”, you say. But what if it doesn’t provide these individuals with the same feeling it provides you? What if they hate running, hate taking care of themselves, where you actually do care about taking care of yourself? Are these individuals “broken”? I certainly don’t think so. They have different values, and because they aren’t violating anyone else’s human rights, they have the right to live how they desire. You can put out as many PSAs you want about smoking and fast food, but if the people continue to smoke and eat at McDonald’s, then you can either continue with the PSAs or give up; whichever one you decide will satiate your personal desire the most. And, of course, the question is begged: “What if you smoked a cigarette? What if you tried a cheeseburger? If you didn’t try the first one, maybe you’ll like the second one.”
Of course, loved ones can be concerned, and try to convince you to stop. But the point is that a long life is not a more important value than happiness. This should be evident. How many of you have had an elderly family member who was dying, and ready to depart? Of course, you want them to stay because you love them, and you don’t want to lose them. But can you blame them for wanting to leave? Why do they want to die? Why are they ready to go? Obviously, they believe they will be happier dead than alive. Think I’m wrong? What other reason would one have for “letting go”? You go when you go, and, inevitably, it’s beyond your control. But who wants to die if they believe that whatever is after is worse than what they are experiencing currently? NO ONE. (Unless they somehow believe that what is worse will make them happier than they are currently, which is unlikely, although still possible, as I know how religious conservatives act on this Earth, where they try to “torture themselves for happiness” (or, rather, torture themselves and try to convince themselves that they are happy, perhaps due to a fear of going to Hell), etc.).
Being rich is not a more important value than being happy. Money for its own sake does nothing if it doesn’t make you happy. Wealth only matters if you believe that it helps you. If it doesn’t, then you will do something that you believe makes you happier with it. Perhaps it makes you happier to save it rather than to spend; to spend rather than to save; or give to others rather than to spend for oneself. But the point is that money does nothing for one if one is not able to obtain some sense of happiness from it. (They say that money can’t buy happiness, but I think that depends. Certainly, there are those that become wealthy, and either become more miserable or stay in the same state of misery they were before (assuming they were miserable beforehand). But, obviously, not everyone who becomes wealthy becomes unhappy because of it. To many, the money does make them happy, for various reasons, some of which may be the ones I mentioned above).
So why do I say that happiness is a virtue? For one, it is a reality that all humans attempt to achieve happiness. We all want to be happy. It’s probably harder for some to be happy than others. But that’s still the goal. That’s what we really want. We may not be able to control the death of a loved one, or a natural disaster, or a cancer diagnosis; Hell, we can’t always make ourselves happy constantly. But yet, that’s still what we strive for. We still try to make ourselves happy, through individualistic, diverse means. And if going to Heaven after you die is such a great paradise, and going to Hell after you die is a great torment, then I have to suppose that God actually cares about our happiness as humans (if He actually wants us to come to Christ, go to Heaven, and avoid Hell), and doesn’t want us to suffer (I mean, He created us in a fucking paradise, for Christ’s sake (no pun intended- that’s a lie)). I know that answer doesn’t satisfy atheists, but I’ll try to address that in a future piece.
The idea that God wants us to suffer, especially as a means to get into Heaven, is ludicrous. God did say that suffering was inevitable as a result of the Fall of Man. But He clearly didn’t want us to suffer, because He told us to not do what would cause that suffering in the first place. So clearly He cared. Of course, why He put the Tree there in the first place is a mystery, and it could be argued that He doomed at least some of us to failure; why even put the Tree there in the first place if He knew we were going to eat from it? That means that even before He created the world, He knew He was going to punish some percentage of the people that He would ultimately create. Why would He do that? “To make His justice known” seems to be the answer, and it could be argued that humans were just “caught up in the middle of it”. But, of course, we are sinners, so there is clearly guilt on our part. But why were we ever even given a chance to suffer? Why was that even created? In other words, what is the origin of sin? Why not a perfect paradise with no Tree? Indeed, why even exist on Earth at all, and not be created directly into Heaven? Of course, that begs the question: why even be created at all? And, of course, why did sin ever exist? Why were we able to do it? These are the questions I’m going to have to ask Him after I die, if I can. Perhaps they’ll be immediately revealed to me after I die. Only after I die will I know for sure.
There are those of you that will tell me not to ask those questions. There are those of you that will say that I’m wasting my time, asking questions that, more than likely, I’ll never know the answer to. Some of you may say that I’m treading on thin ice around God, and that if I keep it up, the Earth is going to open up, and I’m going to be swallowed by it, forever burning. And, although I do accept that not everyone will ask questions of God like I do, and will have different opinions about the “meaning of life”, I have to ask those so-called Christians, who question my desire to ask the Almighty intimate questions: if God loves me, and sent His Son to die for my sins, and He cares for me, why would He not care about my deepest concerns? Why wouldn’t He care about my doubts and my questions? Why wouldn’t He care about my problems with Christianity? If God didn’t care about me, I’m sure He’d say what YOU say: “Stop asking those foolish questions, boy. Don’t doubt me.” And yet, I haven’t been thrust down into the eternal burning chasm yet. Perhaps He’ll throw me in there tomorrow (I doubt it (wait…isn’t doubt a “triggering” word?)). But I bet He won’t. Perhaps He could help me accept those things that I can’t understand. Perhaps I’ll have a heart attack tomorrow. Anything is possible; only the Almighty knows for certain. But, the best that I can figure, there is no greater goal to work for on this Earth than happiness.
To continue: We were put on this earth as individuals, and the natural individuality of all human beings just so happened to also be diverse. Therefore, there is no universal blueprint. There is no universal blueprint to obtain “happiness”. There are only individuals with desires, a framework known as “reality” (more specifically called “science“; or, at least, “truth“), and individual means used in attempts to obtain individual ends. Then, “success” or “failure” is measured by each individual actor.
Someone might say “But Cody, what if raping people makes you happy? What if killing people makes you happy?” For one, I would argue that one isn’t really happy if they rape or kill. I know that sounds odd to many. But I think that people who do those things are so far removed from humanity that “happiness” is not an emotion that they can actually feel: much like love. You may say that they “love” to rape and kill. And it would be hard for me to argue against that. But I think it consumes them more so than providing them any sense of joy. They may not be tortured, but they’re just lost. They can’t feel, so they just destroy. I know that’s not a good answer to many, and I understand the argument that they do enjoy their vicious natures. But I think, ultimately, they are tormented by them. They are experiencing Hell on Earth, and they’re sharing that Hell upon others (I suppose that means that I believe that a feeling of “Hell” is diverse and individualistic as well. I can’t provide as much evidence for that, however. But I know that the phrase “personal Hell” has been a common part of humanity’s lexicon (for exactly how long, I couldn’t say), and I wouldn’t be surprised if that applies intimately to each individual on Earth and also in Hell).
And what about love? Clearly, our family members, romantic partners, and friends don’t always make us perfectly happy. Children infuriate their parents, vice versa, and the same for romantic partners, and even friends. Clearly, the people in these relationships are not happy while this is going on. But yet, they still love their family and friends. Why? Because that love brings them some sense of joy. Love does not, and cannot, exist without joy. Joy is the connecting factor in the giving and receiving of love: if one did not enjoy the giving or receiving of love, then one would do neither. Despite all of the heartbreaks, and despite relationships that fail, love cannot exist without joy. Love is pointless without joy. If love was simply a connection to another individual who always hurt you, and never provided you with any joy whatsoever, then the purpose of loving anyone at all would be lost.
I’ll deal with the religious aspect of “happiness” and “duty” later (I’ve written a little about it here), but, as Martin Luther wrote in 1530: “Whenever the devil harasses you thus, seek the company of men, or drink more, or joke and talk nonsense, or do some other merry thing. Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, aye, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all. So when the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.”
To conclude, life without happiness is not worth living. Indeed, you’d hear something similar from those who killed themselves right before they died. Happiness is often seen as the antithesis of sadness, and it’s easy to see why: those who are happy want to live, and those who are sad want to die (of course, it exists on a spectrum). There are other emotions, such as anger, and anger can be a motivating cause for constructive action, or destructive action, so the happy-sad dichotomy is not perfect. But, I believe that the facts that happiness is the most pleasant emotion that we can experience, the information I have presented about Christianity, where I believe that God actually does care for our happiness, and the couple of examples I gave of possible arguments against my position are at least enough to get you to consider what I have said for yourself, and perhaps even enlighten you. At least I have stated my honest opinion about this subject, which was my purpose.
(You REALLY don’t want to know how excruciating this was to organize. I know this is a sign of things to come with my writing, and I want to fucking vomit as a result).
No one angers me more than these people that make others feel guilty for not living up to a virtuous standard.
There is a reason that people are how they really are.
Trying to live a virtuous life to get into Heaven is a waste of time, not because Heaven isn’t real, but because it is impossible to make yourself live a life that will get you there, because that isn’t even the way you get there anyway.
The best way to live life is the way that feels natural because it feels natural for a reason. Anything that goes against that nature, especially if it’s in the name of goodness, is the surest way to make it worse.
The nature of reality exists for a reason. There’s a reason why people feel real things, even if they don’t match up to certain ideas of holiness, and there are logical reasons for that.
Purposely trying to live your life by some moral code will lead you to failure, and running away from your nature is another way to ensure that you are not happy as well.
The best thing to do is to do what you want and if you do that and you are afraid of Hell in the process, I think all you can do is hope and pray. I don’t think that there is a blueprint that you can live by that will get rid of that feeling for you because there’s no way that humans can go against their nature and choose to live some perfect life and often, when you try to do so, you’re only reminded of your failures, so it defeats its purpose of making yourself feel better.
Life was created for us to do what we want to do. It was not created for us to be miserable to prove our spiritual worth, or for us to deny ourselves pleasure for a divine purpose.
Our lives were created specifically for enjoyment, and the tragedy is that it is impossible for us to enjoy life all of the time.
Therefore, our lives should not be lived with fear of our imperfections, nor unrealistic expectations of always feeling good, but rather, we should do whatever we want to do whenever we want to because we are never guaranteed any outcome, whether it be a type of accident or any other possible event that could occur at any given time. Because of the unknown, the only course of action that always makes sense is to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it. Unpredictability of life strengthens this argument because even though you could say “If I would have prepared better, this wouldn’t have happened”, before an event happened, there would be no way to know that even if you didn’t prepare, said event might not happen, so the only barometer that is consistent as far as what actions we take has to be doing what we want, as we live in a state where mistakes occur (meaning our faults), accidents occur (meaning not our faults), uncertainty exists, living your life “for God” (in the sense that this phrase is typically used) will inevitably cause you to doubt, thus making a perfect existence for God useless, it will inevitably make you miserable when you repress what you want to do and feel guilty for doing so, or when you fear for your eternal fate, or when you compulsively fear for the fates of others, or when you deny yourself good things for making yourself miserable and feeling guilty for it.
That type of religious circle just repeats upon itself, and that isn’t what this life is all about.
This life is not about repeating religious rituals and making yourself feel bad. Although eternal happiness is most certainly an idea that we all want, and rightly so, this life was not created for us to make ourselves miserable as often as possible to obtain it. That is not how the paradise is obtained, and our suffering is not something to be spiritually proud of, but rather it is appropriate to see it as the hindrance that it is to our existence’s happiness.
Existential purposes are not something that I take lightly. If you want to define actions as “good” or “bad”, you can have many different criteria for these definitions. As well, you can have many different reasons as to why someone would choose to do any of these specific actions, and even further still, there is the question of what should be done after all of this is analyzed, which is what religion attempts to do (poorly).
Clearly, there are many different actions that one could take, and we would define our actions as either “good” or “bad”, using our own individual criteria (although some people would say they are using God’s perfect criteria: something which poses a lot of other problems that I might get into). I could cut my arm off, stab myself in the stomach, drink poison, stab someone else in the chest, cut off my toe, or hang myself. I would call these actions “bad”, because, respectively, what would happen in these cases is I would experience extreme pain (which I was created to avoid), I would not be able to do many things that I enjoy doing without my arm, I could possibly die and I do not wish to do so at the moment, I would face a lot of problems that I do not wish to face, I do not have the desire to physically harm someone else, I do not wish to lose an extremity if I already have one and could possibly regret losing one if I chose to cut it off myself, and reattaching it might not prove as effective as keeping it in the first place, which would give me great regret which I wish to avoid, and hanging myself is not something that I want to do, either.
The one common theme between all of these “bad” actions is that I do not want to do them. So what I want is instrumental to deciding whether or not to do these actions, and in fact it is crucial in my examination of whether or not an action is “bad”, bad being harmful to my desires. In other words, I am choosing actions based on what I want, which is what I discussed earlier.
Also, in choosing a good action, I choose the same criteria. I want to eat something that tastes good because I enjoy all that comes with it. I want to study because I enjoy that experience, and enjoyment is something that I want to do. I want to do things that I enjoy because it provides me with an experience that induces desires within me to repeat the experience, and it becomes a positive feedback loop. Much like the “bad” actions that I wish to avoid because of my own desires, likewise, the “good” actions that I wish to take are driven by the same mechanism: my desires. There are differences in avoiding bad and going after good, but their root cause is the same: they are related to what I want, and therefore, what I want dictates my actions.
This is where things get interesting. By most accounts, eating healthy and exercising is another “good” thing. It prolongs life, gives one more strength and endurance, etc. But if it is so good, why do I not do it? The answer to that question is obvious: because I don’t want to. But why do I not want to do a “good” thing, and how should I feel about that? These are the two main questions that I’m getting at here.
If our existential standard is to do everything that is “good” and avoid all that is “bad”, and we define “good” as being healthy, regardless of our individual desires, then we are saying that there is something that will trump our individual desires as far as “good” goes (being healthy is “good” no matter what it is that we want to do). However, I disagree with that. I can say that someone that eats junk food and smokes is unhealthy. However, is it “bad”, if “bad” is what is not “good”? How are we defining good in this case? By almost all objective standards, the individual would not be healthy. But if the individual wants to avoid being healthy to get other things that he wants, is this “good” or “bad”? I think that if it is matching up with his wants, then it is “good.”
And here we have the first barrier that seems to get in the way of people doing what they want. Clearly, if someone wanted to rob someone and the other person didn’t want it, or someone wanted to murder someone and the other person didn’t want it, or someone wanted to rape someone and the other person didn’t want it, I would not classify these as “good” things by my definition of “good.” Why not? This gets into our inquiry: existentially, what do different actions mean?
First of all, who gets to decide whether different actions are “good” or “bad”, if “good” is defined as doing what you want and receiving enjoyment (whereas “bad” is defined as not doing what you want and receiving displeasure), and what does it mean if I kill someone else and receive enjoyment from it? There are different ways of approaching this.
The first way of approaching actions is by way of consent. Consenting parties have rights to certain actions provided that they do not come at the non-consent of any other persons or people, unless those people or that person have no right to decide whether or not they give consent and thus allow or prohibit any specific action. This gets into the concept of “rights”, and rights are natural actions that can be taken by individuals, the prohibition of which justifies retaliation. This is the main point of this. Rights are the first parameters as far as actions go, because they decide who can do what specific action to a specific individual, or who can not do a specific action against an individual, individual desires are the second parameter of who can do what action, because of rights, meaning that if I wish to do something that is within my right, I can, and other people cannot prohibit me from doing something that satisfies my desires that is within my right, and the third and last condition as to what actions can or cannot be taken involves consent, as actions cannot be taken that violate the rights of others without their consent, and actions can be taken that does not satisfy the desires of others if it is not within their right to prohibit the action from taking place. The first required condition is that of rights, the second necessary condition for actions is individual desires, and the last specific requirement for actions is that of consent.
It is these three concepts that create existence, and creation and existence themselves are “good” by the definition that lack of creation would mean that nothing was here, which is not good in that fulfilling desires is good, provided that it doesn’t violate rights and involves consent, and creation is good in that it also satisfies desires, it IS a right and it does not require consent upon another for it to be the case, as once it is there, it is a right and does not require consent from others for it to be there.
These are the three existential platforms that make up life, and what define life as “good.”
The former-mentioned concepts of guilt and failure do not represent the “good.”
If we all knew this, life would be perfect. Because life isn’t perfect, this won’t happen, but I hope that it does, anyway.
Hope is a desire that transcends rights, desires and consent into something so perfect that its description cannot be perfectly uttered by humans.
I think I’m getting closer to discovering what life is all about, and because of that, at the same time, my knowledge of what is unknown increases as well, which is the source of my problems: this never-ending paradox between fulfilling your desires and at the same time getting farther and farther away from not reaching them.
I have no further description of the point of life at this given time.