My previous post generated a nice bit of chatter over on Twitter and, as I was tweeting back and forth with the very excellent Zoe Mounsey, a thought struck me. It was going to need more than 140 characters to wrestle with so I’ve hopped on here to unload my brain.
Our prehistoric ancestors, faced with the majesty of the natural world and in awe of the way in which it seemed to strike at them with apparent arbitrariness started to wonder at their place in their known universe. Over time, a belief in an omnipotent and mysterious deity took hold. On current evidence I think we’re going to have to say that it hasn’t really worked out.
When you have a lot of leisure time, say, between mammoth hunts, you have a lot of time in which to ponder on the meaning of your existence. In our increasingly secular and hurried lives one might think that the search for meaning might perhaps have faded away. I don’t see that at all. Even “Why do I bother?” is a quest for difficult to reach answers. The power of the natural world still makes a mockery of us puny mammals. Our work increasingly has no tangible end product (knowledge work anyone?). Now, perhaps more than ever, we need meaning in our lives. We spend the majority of our concious lives at work. That’s a lot of time spent without meaning.
Except. Except. The well of the milk of human kindness has not run dry. “Do unto others” remains as perhaps the moral high watermark of human ambition. It can and should transcend organised religion and our work. We have it within ourselves to be happy. We have it within ourselves to make others happy. Working life is too long to not be happy. Kindness infects people with happiness. We’re all carriers. Become a donor.
Be kind. Always.