In which we examine the wake of tragedy and the types of questions it raises.Read More
I know, I know. Two days late.
If everything I loved faded or was stripped away, would I have anything left to live for? If the very fabric of society crumbled, if music failed to sound, if I remained as the last of mortal man in a sea of cracked pavement and ruined buildings and decayed civilization, would there be something worth salvaging? Could there exist some value other than in material or in accolades or in shiny gold medals pinned up in a glass case?
Hanging worth on things that I can hold or on places I can go or on words that I can write for others to read suddenly feels, in this peculiar state of mind, like an exercise in madness. A vapor cannot support a society. Philosophy does not prescribe value of life. Politics cannot attribute social worth. Love cannot be contained by words.
It seems like nowadays I check the weather on my phone rather than by opening my window and feeling the sweeping chill on my skin. I sit in class to check an attendance box while the world outside the windows spins further into the madness it started on whenever it was that we popped on the scene - when value became a thing that could be talked about, and when things began to go wrong. When we cast worship on ultimately pointless Degrees and sporting events and television and relationships and meaningless sex and religious dogma and sports cars and humanitarian causes and tech conferences and outlet malls and the almighty dollar and political campaigns and empty philosophy.
When I started trying to understand God, as if I were in a position to be able to do that. When I started trying to defend Him, as if He needed my defense.
I scribbled all of this in my journal in a moment of necessity to write, but wrote the whole thing using "we" instead of "I." Like the questions I was asking were for some betterment of society reason and for distancing myself from the blame for its downfall. Like I wasn't talking explicitly to myself. I started asking the questions I was scared to answer and scratched them out like that would make it as if they never existed. Like I could forget that I used as a platform for understanding what Is that which I could understand. As if my questions determined the fate of the Universe.
But they don't. Nor do yours.
Nor does our economical infrastructure or our Saturday afternoon hobbies or our friend groups or our pressing job interviews or our oversleeping through ill-set alarms, because WE, no, I am not the object of importance here. Because I am expendable. But when I take away the wonder I should be directing towards a purely unfathomable God who, for some reason wants to call me "child," with despair about not being able to understand Him, I have made myself and my intellect the object of worth.
If I base what I call important on something that decays, I am a fool. I am a priest to stones, a Mac enthusiast on a life raft in the middle of the ocean, a Bard in a boneyard. We live in a time where the things that matter are things we can gain, but I cannot help but see how flawed it is. It is no wonder nihilism is en vogue, because when material and fame and a good name are all you have to live for, there comes a moment of realization that these things cannot have any kind of value if they can be taken away tomorrow. It warrants a feeling of panic and a momentary despair. With clenched fists and spite in our throats, we declare that God must be imaginary, because of He were real our worlds wouldn't be dismantling in front of us; that the problem is not with our clearly infallible reasoning and perceptions and understanding, it is with God.
I have to ask myself if the things I am doing are being done in such a way that the worth I ascribe to them or the glory I get from them are not ends in themselves. If I am living for something bigger than the smoldering remains of a broken world.
In a way, the nihilist is right. The skeptic hits the mark. He who mistrusts what he sees is wiser than he who takes all at face value, for value is worthless and knowledge is fleeting indeed, though they can only be worthless and fleeting in the face of Someone who sets the bar.