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The Meaning of Life

Life, Ever Changing

Photograph by iamjanosik@ Riverhills Design LLC

One of the greatest mysteries humanity seems to perpetuate is the notion of “The Meaning of Life”.  From Plato to Monty Python, you’ll find different paths that venture out of the shadows a bit in order to bring their vignettes of knowledge to the conversation.  A sampling of these vignettes can be found on Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meaning_of_life.  I don’t agree in whole with any of these preceding pieces to the conversation puzzle, so I’ll leave mine here.  Feel free to shape my puzzle piece to fit your own unique puzzle.

And here it is:  life’s meaning and purpose is survival.  It is a continuous journey of struggles until the punctuation mark of your life is placed, whatever mark that may be.  Now let me explain survival, starting with the obvious.

In the spirit of following the Architecture we see all around us, I’ll frame this conversation in kind, with multiple layers of simplicity.  Let’s start with the outer layer surrounding the crust of our existence:  we are inherently compelled to ensure our physical survival.  Save the few exceptions, most of us aren’t jumping off buildings or in front of buses.  We do what we can to ensure our own survival, which entails meeting those basic needs of sustenance and shelter.  The greater levels of survival aren’t possible without this foundation.

Our own primitive survival needs met, we can then add the next layer: ensuring the basic needs are met for our immediate family unit.  At some point, this may include ensuring the basic needs survival of offspring, who in turn may one day ensure your survival for a while longer.  By that time, hopefully things have progressed to the higher levels of survival so your continued existence has multiple layers of stacked purpose, mental illness and disease notwithstanding.

The next layer of survival often coincides with the first at the basic levels, but trails at higher levels:  intellectual and tactical survival.  Again, this first applies to the individual and then to ensuring the transfer of knowledge to the immediate family unit.  Without knowledge transfer at the primitive levels, continued survival of the individual and family unit would be short-lived.  Cessation of knowledge transfer at the higher levels has more global societal repercussions.  The various tools of survival are numerous, but I’ll highlight one important tool that has assisted the survival of both primitive and modern man:  advanced social intelligence, beginning with communication in all of its forms.

We next travel the murky path afforded those that have either secured an effective and efficient system to ensure the prior survival levels or those that have only found a way to tread water without drowning:  spiritual and transcendent survival.  While the corresponding paths may diverge depending on the specific group (let’s just leave it at repetitive dogma versus authentic connection and discovery), the ultimate goal remains the same: to give greater purpose to living other than mere physical survival.  We secure this first for the individual, and then to ensuring spiritual and transcendent survival to the immediate family unit.  In essence, we create our own meaning to ensure our spiritual and transcendent survival; thus, giving purpose to the continued struggle of the lower levels of survival.  The created meaning is not a priori, as that would be absurd.  In struggling to survive, we are compelled to create meaning, however nihilistic, absurd, humanitarian, individualistic, biologic, spiritual and transcendent that meaning may be.

And for Society as a whole, we look to the final level of survival:  ensuring all levels of survival for those beyond our immediate family so that Humanity may progress, in turn securing the survival of our immediate family unit and larger circle of compatriots.  This challenge falls to the shoulders of the willing individuals that have effectively secured the lower, middle and higher levels of survival.  Humanity has the choice to transcend to this level of survival for all, or to remain at the lower and middle levels of survival.  We seem to be stuck in the middle, finding meaning in the largely meaningless.  But we should survive a while longer.

A Squiggy Sunday

Good Sunday,

let me introduce you to our old friend, Squiggy.  He’s a squirrel.  He has thousands of cousins in the Tampa Bay area alone.  They all answer to the name ‘Squiggy’, as well.

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Photograph by iamjanosik @ Riverhills Design LLC

Squiggy recently discovered a way around the anti-squirrel bird feeder defense system.  To our amusement, it seems like he’s forgotten the secret.  And so we watch.

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Photograph by iamjanosik @ Riverhills Design LLC

Squiggy watches us watching him and is soon overwhelmed by his failure to attain the nutty goodness just inches beneath him.  He leaps, he bounds, in shame.

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Photograph by iamjanosik @ Riverhills Design LLC

He pauses for a moment, reflecting hurriedly.  And then – whoosh!  Upwards to escape, upwards to freedom, upwards to safety within Mama Oak.

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Photograph by iamjanosik @ Riverhills Design LLC

Until next time, Squiggy.  But you shouldn’t delay too much.  The mourning doves are becoming pleasantly plump in your absence.

A recent discussion on the TradeKing forums prompted me to respond with some questions that I never hear anyone answer intelligently.  With the hot topic up for debate in the upcoming Presidential election being the Economy, the answers to these questions are important.

I don’t have the answers, and I wouldn’t expect the general reader to have the answers.  However, those in power to make decisions that impact the U.S. Economy should have the answers.  Unfortunately, either they don’t have the answers, or they do have the answers and choose to act for their own benefit rather than for the benefit of the nation’s Citizens.  Or perhaps their answers are just flawed, or they are simply ignorant on economic matters (?!).

You be the judge.  And you be the jury with your upcoming votes.

Here are just a few questions I’d like to hear discussed in the upcoming debates.  They pertain to proposed Government spending cuts and the myriad topics that are related (tax reform, revenue generation, etc.).  The forum post was drafted in direct response to another forum member (“incubus”) that posted the following, “A country can’t disconnect itself from liability for constituents like a company can, the citizen is always a citizen, an ex employee finds a new job.  A citizen is either going to be a contribution to GDP or a liability, an executive doesn’t have this problem, his hands are wiped clean after layoff.”

I welcome an intelligent discussion on this matter, private and/or public.  From the thoughtful meanderings of one of my other internet identities:

“So the crux of the matter is how to minimize the liability of those who either are not capable of contributing or are not willing to contribute to their skill level.

Is there less liability by creating redundant government jobs to keep people busy and somewhat productive?  Or is there less liability putting these folks out on the street to either find private employment (assuming they have the necessary skills) or draw SSI payments from the government?

What if SSI payments were discontinued in conjunction with eliminating government positions?  Would that create less liability considering that desperate people will often resort to crime to survive?

Is it better to have the less fortunate die off rather than live a menial life drawing government payments?

Someone put some calculations to work.

Give a man a fish, teach a man to fish, hope the man can find a job at a fishery, hope the man will buy a boat and start his own fishery, or feed the man to the fish?

On the surface, it sounds noble to say that laid off government employees will make better for themselves by starting their own business or advancing in private industry.  The truth of the matter is, though, that it takes a special individual to have the drive, intelligence and common sense to start a business and successfully maintain and grow it.  Only a small percentage will try and only a small percentage of those that try will succeed.  Transitioning into the private sector as an employee is easier, but are the number of open positions sufficient to support the number of laid off job seekers plus those entering the workforce?

Talking heads make it sound so simple to solve, so cut and dry, so black and white.  It’s not.  We live in shades of gray, and the cost/benefit shifts on a sliding scale.”

Bridges need crossed in our near future. Is this one of them? [Photograph by I Am Janosik@Riverhills Design, LLC]

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