Do you ever ask yourself why you’re here?
I never do. Pondering the purpose of existence has always struck me as wasted pondering time. As soon as “why” enters the discussion, (you know, ‘Life the Universe and Everything’), then “how”, by far the more productive line of enquiry, the scientific line if you like, is immediately devalued. Try a simple test. Ask yourself the following questions:-
How did life come about?
Why did life come about?
Your answers on a postcard to…….
But seriously. “How” can be addressed by hypothesis, theory, prediction and evidence. You’ve guessed it. Science.
“Why” requires a reason and someone, a God or some equally omnipotent geezer (normally a cleric) to provide that reason with the help of a holy book, a stone tablet, a doctrine or some such. Not science.
You will have spotted my atheistic leanings by now but putting theology, or rather my mistrust of it, to one side, most contemporary humanity does seem to be behaving in a “why” sort of way. I’ll illustrate this crudely and simplistically (this is just a blog after all) as follows. Again, ask yourself:-
“Why do I get out of bed most weekdays?” – Ans. So I can use my day productively; to be gainfully employed; to make a better life for myself and my love ones; to earn my keep.
“Why do I need all this ‘keep’?” – Ans. (obvious, right?). To pay the rent/mortgage, the bills, the Visa card, the Waitrose account, the gym membership, the phone contract, little Natasha’s saxophone lessons, blah de blah…..
“Why is my ‘keep’ never enough?” – Ans. Because…..well…. because no one ever has enough do they? Because you can never have enough really. Enough things; enough experiences; enough holidays; enough nursery time for the kids; enough home improvements; enough devices; enough..er…stuff.
This is the point at which “why” starts to get a bit awkward. Uncomfortably existential. No dozing off. Stay with me.
“Why do I have to have all this…stuff?” Ans. – Because if you don’t consume then everything stops. Production, the market, the banks, economic growth, the banks, the government, the banks, the roads, the railways, taxes, The Archers, The Champions League, the banks…..everything!
Ask that most wise and exulted high priest, the Economist.
In the beginning there was the word and the word was growth. And the market heard the word and was saved. Shop without end. Amen.
I know what you’re thinking. This is just one more blasphemous, anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist rant emanating from Green Cuckoo Land. Well, us green cuckoos want you to address another question or two:-
“What if everybody everywhere buys into the ‘you-can-never-have-enough’ system?”
“What planet will all the stuff come from?”
“When will enough actually be enough?”
And here’s the cruncher.
“What needs to change and what can I do to change it?”
And so we return to the How…….
Well if you don’t ask the questions you don’t get the answers.