- “When you befriend a chief, remember that he sits on a rope.” – Ugandan proverb
Once upon a time, life had a meaning. It was centred on “loving each person as much as we loved ourselves.” That is why the teachers of old, embraced the vocation to educate the young without thinking of personal gains.
Those were the days, leaders loved their people so much, they were shepherds. It was an era, when lawyers sought to defend the weak and those without voices, when doctors and nurses would go great lengths to attend to the sick, even when they lacked the facilities, and pastors and priests looked after the souls of the lay faithful.
Sadly, in the present, and for many, meaning has more to do with personal consumption, than a moral obligation to others. The once larger than the self, concept, has now been re-defined to cater for the self and the self only. It has evolved from our humanity to our individuality. It has been personalised.
Listening around, one notices how the current model of meaning is based on consumption. We want a “state of bliss – a continuity in which there are no frustrations.” In other words, we want a reality where we can consume without worries. Thus, our proposed solutions are centred on achieving an endless supply of resources. Interestingly, this state is interpreted differently and individually depending on our state of consciousness. Thus, some say they are seeking for happiness, others security, some others, peace of mind, and so on and so forth.
Whilst meaning begins with the self, its end, extends beyond the self. It is and should be directed at posterity instead of our desires. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not to be understood from the perspective of the subject, that is, from the perspective of “meaningful to me,” but “meaningful to our humanity.” The former approach gets many of us trapped in loneliness.
The latter approach on the other hand, gives us, not just an appreciation of life, but its essence as well. It is a choice to give of ourselves, to enable the greater good to flourish in our humanity. That is why many testify that when they give away their hearts to a larger cause, they find fulfilment and ultimately meaning. For example, the choice to be humble might not pay off financially, but it invigorates a state of fulfilment for those who practise it.
In all honesty, meaning does not define who we are. That is why the “meaningful to me” approach condemns the practitioner into a cycle of consumption. That process is so narrow, if undertaken, one is usually trapped in their fantasies. This is the plight of many ‘successful’ individuals. They get trapped in their beliefs and assumptions, because too often, they are afraid to lose themselves. But meaning, can only be found when one lives like a lamb amongst wolves. That act of letting go of our egos and the make-beliefs we have of ourselves, is the beginning of life.
When Christian Scripture entreats us to “seek and we will find,” it is a challenge to us to walk on the narrow path that leads to life. It is an assurance that is not only refreshing, but also inspires the need to dedicate ourselves towards finding what this life is all about, and why we are a part thereof. It is an invitation to be curious about life. And more importantly, for us to undertake research and more research in order to gain a thorough understanding of issues and principles before we make it our reality. Whilst this invitation is universally inclusive, there are many amongst us, who do not want to seek. They would rather follow another who professes to know the way, than find the way themselves. Such individuals love to be led. Are you in that category?
Many are the assumptions and beliefs that “maintain that there are some who are enlightened, who know the way, and that under their tutelage, and with the example of their way of life, one is more likely to fine meaning.” As logical as that might sound, those individuals at best, can only encourage us to get started on the path of meaning, and or in a motivational sense, push you off the cliff. The real work must be undertaken by you, and you ought to start right away, if you have not begun. To get you started, ask, “why must I seek.” You are most likely to answer that it is to gain understanding. But “why would you need that understanding?” Well, you need that live freely; where freedom has to do with having the ability to choose that which is good our humanity in order to ensure everyone including yourself flourish…
Kodwo Brumpon is an author, a life coach and a philanthropist who inspires individuals, groups and organisations to think and feel that which is true, by helping them to positively respond to that which is beautiful is, whilst nudging them to let goodness govern their actions.
Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]