What is Life? What is its Purpose? Why are We Here?
What is Life?
Simply defined, life is the period of existence between birth and death. Life distinguishes human beings and all other animals and plants from inorganic matter, such as rocks, in that it includes a capacity for growth, reproduction and continual change.
Human life, however, is generally considered to be of a much higher order than animal life, and therefore consists of more than mere existence on this lonely planet we call Earth.
Is Life Valuable?
With evolution, human life has aquired a greater value than that of animals and plants. It is now seen by most people as a gift that should be treasured and used to the greatest possible extent and effect.
This realisation, dynamically and exponentially developed over thousands of recent years of man's existence, has led to the vast variety of different cultures in which human beings conduct themselves, in accordance with a set of ever changing rules the purpose of which is primarily to preserve and protect the value of life for all.
How should we Live Life?
Rules of conduct have evolved and can vary considerably from one community to another. Generally speaking, the more civilised a community has become, the more complex and demanding are its rules. Rules are gathered together and communicated across groups of people in various ways. Some rules, usually the more simple ones, are learned and remembered and often referred to as manners or etiquette. Others, perhaps requiring strict obedience, are more commonly called laws, and are mostly written down for reference and to avoid confusion should anyone need to be admonished or punished for deviating from acceptable behaviour.
What does a "Way of Life" mean?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a way of life as: the habits, customs and beliefs of a particular person or group of people, OR an important activity, job etc., that affects all parts of someone's life.
An individual's way of life can be affected, hampered, or even destroyed by outside influences beyond their control, but, under normal circumstances, when people adopt an acceptable, pleasurable and/or profitable way of life they achieve happiness and fulfillment. All communities develop and adopt a "way of life", which is in part voluntary and partly to be expected of individuals, in order to preserve peace and harmony across their group. Everyone has their part to play within the community, according to their age and abilities, to ensure the continued success of the group.
Acceptable customs for many simple everyday practices such as eating, sleeping, bodily functions, personal hygiene, human interaction, etc., are grouped together as a set within each individual community and generally passed by word of mouth, and by setting example from adult to child, down through the generations.
Altruistic qualities such as honesty, decency and consideration for others, etc., were recognised by a few of the more intelligent early humans to be essential for the preservation and welfare of any community, and formed the beginnings of today's many different religions
Religious teachings not only laid out rules for desirable human conduct, but invented reasons why they should be obeyed, in the form of mysterious, omnipotent and wrathful "gods", who would punish wrongdoers with instant and/or eternal punishment.
Why do we have "Leaders" in authority over our lives?
As man evolved, the animalistic herd instinct grew even stronger and every group of people, however large or small, developed a system of leadership for its own guidance, protection and control. Sometimes they chose their own leaders. More often than not, their leaders chose them.
In earlier times, and even sometimes today, "leaders" were self-appointed. Strong, unelected men, and indeed women, simply take power and present themselves to the people as the indisputable ruler and authority over all matters, including the very lives of their subjects.
Some leaders are benevolent. They have only the interests of their people at heart and strive to make their lives as comfortable and fair as can be. Other leaders have their own agenda, seeking ever more power, influence, glory, and personal wealth. They govern with varying degrees of brutality, and disregard for justice, presiding over a constant living nightmare for their subjects.
Much the same can be said for many modern day leaders and politicians the world over.
Conclusion. How to achieve a happy life.
Life is what you make it. Each individual must choose his or her own path and strive to accomplish enough to achieve happiness and fullillment.
You only get one life, despite some religious beliefs centering around reincarnation. You are born out of the reproductive cycle of all animals and, upon death, your physical and mental "beings" simply cease to exist, and pass into a void of nothingness. All that remains are memories in the minds of those you leave behind as long as they continue to live, together with any lasting artifacts that you, or those who knew you, created to recognise and celebrate your lifetime contribution to humanity.
So, live your life to make the best contribution you can to the wellbeing and happiness of those who share your limited time with you. Your efforts will not be wasted!
Sosumi - July 2018