a little east of reality

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

new take on the meaning of life

Well, when I say 'new', it's from a seven-year-old episode of Angel, but anyway... The screen captures are a little dark, sorry.
Kate: My whole life has been about being a cop. If I'm not a part of the Force, it's like nothing I do means anything.
Angel: It doesn't.
Kate: Doesn't what?
Angel: Mean anything. In the greater scheme, in the big picture. Nothing we do matters. There's no Grand Plan, no big win.
Kate: You seem kind of chipper about that.
Angel: I guess I kinda worked it out. If there's no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. 'Cause that's all there is: what we do ~ now, today. I fought for so long...for redemption, for reward, finally just to beat the other guy, but I never got it.
Kate: Now you do?
Angel: No...all I want to do is help. I want to help because I don't think people should suffer as they do. Because if there's no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.
Kate: Yikes, it sounds like you had an epiphany.
Angel: I keep saying that, but no-one's listening...
To be honest I see some flaws in his reasoning (eg, to say that 'all that matters is what we do' ignores the drivers that motivate what we do, the scope of which cover a lot more ground than 'live well' or 'be kind to others and do no harm') but still I find that I like this reasoning.

We may wonder about the afterlife and hope (we have one and) it's something happy or productive or beautiful, but in the end it's kind of sad if the only reason we do good is to make installments on a fat final reward. And where does end-game thinking like that leave people who don't believe there is anything after this life? I think life needs purpose, even if it's a purpose we assign to it. And I think most people who life above subsistence level (who have the time and energy to give to pondering what life's about) want to carve out some kind of purposeful life for themselves.

What do you guys think?

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