What Makes Life Worth Living? (Part 1 – Earth)
Before any concern is shown or any other words are read I wish to reassure that this is not a note expressing suicidal tendencies but more simply an article based on my view of this question – What makes life worth living?
What do you think?
Maybe take 2 minutes out of your day, grab a piece of paper and a pen and try to write down your answer to this question.
When we think about life we think about our experiences. I can imagine some people would give answers such as; my family, my lover, my friends, nature, being alive, possibility, the good, the bad, animals, perhaps life’s fluctuating scales of joy and unhappiness, serving others. Maybe I’m being a bit idealistic and the more realistic answers may be; cars, weed, Xbox, money, iPhone, television, The Only Way Is Essex perhaps…? But if we try to summarise these ideas they appear to be a mix of whatever our unique life experience has been like and whatever we have connected with that has brought us happiness.
So what allows us to have this experience? What makes all of this possible? I think we tend to forget that if we didn’t have planet Earth as a habitat to exist on, then this experience may not be possible for any of us. It is clear that without planet earth I wouldn’t be able do what I’m doing now which is to write this using a pen and a piece of paper. The planet makes what is possible – ‘reality’– as it is. This is why it’s important that we re-think how we relate to the earth, as sooner then we might expect the planet will not be able to sustain our species’ existence. Primarily this is due to how quickly and mindlessly we are using our planet’s resources in the race for power, superiority and wealth.
In the latest edition of the book Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth by R. Buckminster Fuller his grandson begins with this poem:
is the already accomplished
organization of human capabilities
the initiatives of human life
the magnitude of true wealth
consists of the number
of forward days
of the number of human beings
already provided for”
From this poem we can explore the idea of happiness from wealth. S.N. Goenka tells a story regarding a man who has a large amount of money the storyline is that he buys an Audi and at first that makes him happy, then a Mercedes, then a Ferrari, then a Rolls Royce, then a fleet of Rolls Royce, then a yacht, then a plane, then a jumbo jet, then an island, then a spaceship that can go to mars, then a spaceship that can go to every galaxy in the universe – but still, the sky is the limit with money. It’s easy to intellectually understand this and for people like myself who haven’t had this experience it does seem to be a great way to spend one’s life.
However, as Mahatma Gandhi said “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” – and this is clearly highlighted in the time we’re living in now with events such as Earth Overshoot Day which has occurred this year on August 9th (2014) – Which according to Global Footprint Network is the point in the year when humans have exhausted supplies such as land, trees and fish and outstripped the planet’s annual capacity to absorb waste products including carbon dioxide. Humans have used up the natural resources the world can supply in a year in less than eight months. However, there are solutions to this and they aren’t just in hoping that some tech-whizz is going to create a game-changing form of sustainable energy that is going to reverse the planetary destruction that has been caused from issues such as the use of fossil fuels and deforestation. It’s understandable that we don’t want to give up some of our easy luxury lifestyles of convenience, comfort and choosing what we want to do without thinking about the consequences.
Nonetheless, The way we choose to act in our life play a big part such as how we spend our money, what we consume, what energy we choose to support, whether we choose to support local or large corporations, the transport we use, how we dispose of our waste and many more.
It’s undeniable there are vast amounts of this information and we don’t all have the time to sift it. But we all know small things we can do such as: how we eat – conscious eaters e.g. supporting large corporations using unsustainable agricultural methods or supporting local organic foods, how we spend our money – conscious consumers e.g. fulfilling our needs not our greed, how we dispose of our waste e.g. through recycling and composting, what we choose to support through conscious action e.g. not only in our votes but in protests, online and in our communities, the transport we use and getting involved with the millions of people who want change so that all beings may be happy.
For those interested in further reading on this subject here are a small selection of books and documentaries I’ve come across:
- What Has Nature Ever Done For Us by Tony Juniper
- 2052 by Jorgen Randers
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
- Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher
- Home (2009 Documentary) by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Likewise, if there are any particular books or films that have made you re-think this issue please post them in the comments section below.
This article isn’t aimed at making someone feel as if their actions aren’t good enough; it’s merely my explanation of reality as it is today. We are responsible for our actions in the world, for our own experience and the experience of every other being.
This leads me to the next article (What Makes Life Worth Living – Part 2 Connection) Yes, we can help to save the earth through doing our part and yet once we’ve solved this issue there is that same question “What Makes Life Worth Living?” and if you skip back to the first paragraph you will see that more or less the points mentioned rely on our connections with other humans, other species and the planet.
The Buddha said, “There are 3 types of actions, physical action, vocal action and mind action.” We tend to give most importance to physical action but really mind action comes before physical and vocal and that’s what we will explore in the next article.
So, how can we help to create a loving compassionate world? – View Part 2 here – http://whyproject.co.uk/makes-life-worth-living-part-2-connection/
By A. Person
Wordspreader at Why Project