The following essay/reflection/treatise/thingy operates by taking as given that Human Civilization is FUBAR. Please suspend your investment in Modern Culture accordingly for the duration of the trip and keep hands, feet, and tentacles inside the ozone layer at all times.
We humans spend and awful lot of time and energy trying to ascribe meaning to our lives. We build massive (phallic) structures, wage wars, create religions, interpret dreams, make incredible art and music, exercise control over our children, and on and on. There are deeply important forces of creation as well as destruction at play.
Some humans have spent years and lifetimes, generations and centuries trying to pinpoint our position in the Grand Scheme of Things, taking time for deep reflection, tormenting the spirit and mind, reaching enlightenment of some kind or another. Others have refused to take off their social blinders and look at the world outside of social constructs.
In the end, though, none of any of that matters. This is not to say I agree with nihilists or libertarians; I choose to infer from my existence as a fraction of a speck in the Universe not that my life is insignificant and therefore worthless, but rather that my very existence is indeed significant just because I am and we are.
I exist! Out of the [LITERALLY!] infinite possibilities of the Universe, I, me, myself, happened to come about. How amazing! Light energy has slowed down at just the right frequencies to allow distinguishable matter, and that matter vibrates at the exact perfect frequency as to form atoms and molecules and amino acids and nucleic acids and large, complex protein structures that compose my anatomy and there is electricity in a glob of glucose that I call my brain, and that gives me a consciousness. And every nanojoule of this energy that constitutes ME was present when our proto-sun exploded and turned into a star, expelling matter and energy hundreds of lightyears in every direction.
What more do I need to consider myself significant, my life meaningful? How can something so fundamental be controversial?
Here's the problem (and the beginning of my speculation/theorizing/philosophy/argument). Lots of other humans faced this question and decided they couldn't deal with their
infinite natures. So we have spent thousands of years trying to separate ourselves from nature.* Making tools, weapons; controlling fire; trading, devising monetary schemes; ascribing power. It's all a diversion from the universal truth that we Exist.
People looked past "we Exist", and asked, "so what?"
They said, "A rock exists. So what? A rock! A boring, plain old rock. A rock is of no use except to throw or build. Surely I'm more important than a rock."
They said, "A tree exists. A tree! A tall, beautiful tree. A tree provides food and shelter, and I can kill it to make things. But it can't do anything to defend itself! So surely I must be more important than a tree, because I can control it."
They said, "Bugs and worms and jellyfish exist. So what? If they can exist, it can't be all that special. I can control them, too, so I must be more important. There must be more to life than living."
And as they worked their way up the hierarchy of life that they were building as it occurred to them, suddenly, oh shit, they were looking at other humans. How many thousands of volumes of literature have been devoted to ranking humanity, ascribing value to difference, subjugating enormous classes of people, creating categories that, try as we might, still can't quite encompass everyone. How many wars? Genocides?
The entire global social order is premised on the basic flawed assumption that human life, life on earth, earth itself is ultimately powerless and insignificant.** It's one hell of an inferiority complex, magnified over generations, infected globally through processes of war and colonialism and other forms of cultural exchange.
Now, of course people will try to tell me, "But it's not all bad! We're just trying to live up to our potential, given the amazing gift of life that we do appreciate! We've done things like Science and Art and Progress! We've fixed Things!"
The crux of the argument, the real heart of it, is in how we conflate self-worth with power. As a consequence of that action, that judgment, we turn our gaze outward, away from our infinite selves, and onto false idols of social, cultural, and institutional Meaning.
We, humans, will never be able to build enough, create enough, destroy enough to give ourselves the satisfaction we desire. We're trying to play God, imitate nature, not participate in it. If, instead of trying to create meaning, significance, control, we resign ourselves to accept that in the Grand Scheme of Things, we have no control, and neither does anybody else, we will start to get back on the right track.
Because right now we are living in a nightmare that we as a species have created. To love ourselves just as we are right now in this moment is antithetical and deeply subversive to social entente, and that is fundamentally fucked up.***
So please, run around naked in the woods. Or hell, run around naked at your office! It'll be a move in the right direction.
*By "nature", I mean to say "untampered physical, geographical, and physiological ecology".
**NB: I'm not saying everyone in the world believes this now or always has, I'm saying social power and function today are inextricable from it.
***This sentence alone deserves an explanation that would fill several volumes. It applies to consumer citizenship most obviously, but to many other aspects of life as well.
This essay comes out of a burgeoning tradition of philosophy known as Love and Universal Everythingness (which I have made up), which is not a religion but a path to enlightenment, and which, as I read and think more, I will probably discover has really been Vipassana and/or Hinduism all along.