I eat so I no longer feel hungry.
I drink so I no longer feel thirsty.
I run so I can have a healthier body.
I socialize so I don’t feel lonely.
I help others so I can feel better about myself.
I contemplate so I am less confused about the purpose of my existence.
I, I, I… All we ever do today is work to satisfy ourselves. Even helping others is done to increase our level of endorphins, thus making us feel better about ourselves and eventually avoiding the risk of depression. Do we not care for anything else? Do we not value anything more than ourselves? When it comes down to it, am I the only purpose of my own existence?
Fortunately, there are people in the world who value other things than themselves. Some people value their nation and are even willing to die while defending it. Some people value religion and are willing to die, or even kill in some cases, in the name of that religion. Some people value their race and are willing to start a World War to affirm its superiority. Some people follow an ideology till the bitter end. Some people value money and are willing to lead a miserable life to become richer.
In a global culture of increasing individualism, materialism, and separation from reality, it is fundamental for us to strengthen the foundations of young people. From an early age, children should be taught to value what is truly good for them and for others. As Aristotle said: “we must put on immortality as much as is possible and strain every nerve to live according to that best part of us, which, being small in bulk, yet much more in its power and honour surpasses all else”.
I am as selfish as everyone else, so I am obviously in no position to preach to you. All I hope to do is remind you of a 2,300 year old lesson that continues to be a to our struggle. Let us open our eyes to the false promises of happiness that we are drowned with on a daily basis. Let us see through all the propaganda, advertisement, and the virtual reality of video games and technology. Let us not worship our physical or emotional needs but that immortal part of us. Let us see and deal with each other as full human beings, for that is the only way to live a moment of true happiness. Don’t spend your life running towards happiness, it is right there beside you, stop running, take a breath and look to your side, you will find the people who love you, you will find your family and friends, leaving them behind will only bring you sorrow.
I do admit though, easier said than done…