Meanings in Life


May 11, 2016

Although every day witnesses technical progress and new appliances invade our lives, we seem to lose so many other values with time. Several causes can be pointed at: First, the lack of leadership in the world, when we compare Charles de Gaulle with Francois Hollande, when we compare Churchill with Cameron, when we compare Dag Hammarskjöld with Ban Ki-moon, or Roosevelt with George Bush, there is definitely something going wrong.

People have become more naïve and trust the words of politicians who make promises. Another cause for the lack of evolution is the replacement of say about 100 values, which existed in the past, such as politeness, respect, punctuality, faithfulness etc that are being replaced by a single value - money.

Although every day the number of people who die in Syria, Libya, Palestine etc increases, we see European countries creating new barriers preventing migrants from entering. Pictures of cities in ruins do not affect us anymore. It is business as usual.

We received from our ancestors a very valuable heritage but what are we going to leave for our future generations? iphones, robots, talk shows? Hasn’t the time come for each and every one of us to stop and start thinking about what is essential in life?

One of the parameters which in the mind of philosophers has created misunderstandings, comes from the statement, that we believe that there is only one truth. Accepting that life has many facets and many ways to be looked at will facilitate understanding between people, races and continents. Once the press statement is made, say by a politician, by an artist, or by a public figure, we have the tendency to take it for granted.

If we have achieved technical progress, it is mainly due to the fact that we have doubts that there is no other way. It is by re-thinking that we make progress. By believing that other views could also bring solutions, the path in front of us opens up. Why can this approach not be used in our relations with others? The Middle East is going to a gigantic change. The maps are re-drawn and powers changing from one end to another. This at the expense of millions of people losing their homes, their beloved ones, their history and memory. Some would pretend that all this is a plot by the Western world planned for its own benefit, others will claim that it is the victory of one type of religion over the other and others will invoke issues like energy costs, fights between superpowers. But, us living in this part of the world, what can we do?

Remain spectators, or contribute to an improvement of our own and our region’s future? This starts by cleaning in front of our own house first, looking at what we can do on our own to improve things, to teach our children real values, to prevent them from falling into a world of blind consumption, to get them interested in our past values, to teach them respect for other people’s opinions.

Changes will not come from the top, but from each of us. And changes require time and so much patience. In a society where everything is measured in fractions of seconds, patience has no meaning anymore, even if it is something essential required to give meaning to our lives. How often do we stop for a second just to look at ourselves and question the speed, the direction and the cost of what we are undertaking?

Some countries still insist on past values, such as China, Vietnam or some African countries, but although most of the known values emanate from the Middle East, we here, seem to be even more in a hurry than the Western world. Why can’t we master technology? Every day new applications are created for computers and telephones. The games concentrate on violence and life destruction. Why can’t we create applications promoting creativity, co-existence, friendship and well-being?

At every moment we should realise that what we are has come to us because of our parents and ancestors, and what are we leaving for the future generations? Not only do we not respect what was given to us, we destroy nature, animals and values and are simply creating hell in this world. Looking at the world’s map, one is amazed to see that the entire Middle East seems to be at war, stretching from Turkey to Afghanistan.

Media also accentuates this disorder by relating it wherever possible. If every day when you wake up, you think it is your last day, many things come to your mind, but you try to stick to the essentials. Life can be beautiful if we learn how to look at it and give it a real meaning. It is not others, but each of us who can make a difference.