What exactly is it which constitutes purposeful living? Is it possible to describe purposeful living in some generic ‘applies to everyone’ kind of sense? Can we arrive at a description of purposeful living on which the atheist, deist, theist, pantheist, and agnostic can to some degree and compromise arrive at agreement?
I posit that one of the reasons there is so much conflict in the world is because people do not agree, and perhaps continue to diverge on what exactly it is in reality constitutes purposeful living. When theists such as Christians and Muslims disagree on purposeful living (if they did not, Muslims would not bomb churches), and theists disagree with atheists or agnostics (Christians are accused of attempts at foistering of their notions of morality on atheists and agnostics or pantheists), we engender conflict in society, conflicts mediated by negotiations and laws of civil society; conflicts which never are resolved using either of highlighted mechanisms; conflicts not resolvable via introduction of war, or engagement in violence.
In an increasingly fragmented society, if at all possible now more than ever, we need to engage in discussions as to some generic specification of purposeful living on which we all can with some compromise, some give and take, some consideration for rights to self actualization of others, agree.
Ghouta: An Illustration
Take for instance, the fighting in Ghouta, Syria. Every day we hear of how Syrian armed forces make lives of Syrians difficult in Ghouta. My question is:
“given current military and political realities dictate it is definite Syrian rebels eventually will be routed from Ghouta, if the rebels really are about liberation of Syrians, why will the rebels not withdraw from Ghouta to prevent suffering of Syrians for whom they claim to be fighting?”
It is clear at this point in time only one victor can emerge in Syria — Syrian armed forces. Why will the rebels not negotiate a truce for withdrawal so as to induce an end to sufferings of ordinary people of Syria? While attention has been focused on bombardments by armed forces of Syria, rebels’ refusal to withdraw from the enclave raises questions about trueness of their motives, raises concerns about trueness of their love for every Syrian life for whom they claim to fight.
The point of this illustration?
Clearly, Syrian rebels and average Syrians located in Ghouta do not agree on what exactly it is constitutes purposeful living. Rebels are attracting suffering in a conflict it is clear they cannot win, ordinary citizens want their suffering to end as quickly as possible.
There is disagreement, there is conflict, there is suffering.
The suffering in enclave of Ghouta cannot be dissociated from disagreements with respect to what exactly it is constitutes purposeful living in Ghouta.
I Take A Stab
A vain wise man (King Solomon) once advocated this nugget of wisdom as general paradigm for purposeful living:
Purposeful living consists of eating (could be meat or vegetarian cuisine) and drinking (could be juice, could be wine, fits in everyone’s choices or tastes), and enjoyment of everything good that is outcome of one’s labor or work.
The recommendation of purposeful living above seems very simple, yet is extremely profound, particularly in respect of what is, or is not included in characterization of purposeful living.
First, it is the good that is outcome of one’s labor or work one is supposed to enjoy. This of necessity means focus on oneself and not neighbors. This means death of the rumor mill and poking of noses in neighbors’ affairs. This means no one has interest in expropriation of the good that is outcome of another’s work — everyone focuses on enjoying the good that is outcome of their work or labor. Capitalism is satisfied (everyone enjoys profits from their labor), so also is socialism (everyone gets along because no one attempts to seize others’ profits). This of necessity means Russia does not poke its nose into American elections — never mind the fact that ‘poking of nose’ was not the source of Donald Trump’s victory at the polls. I watched every debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Only Donald Trump put his reputation on the line for bringing back of jobs to America. This was how Donald Trump won. I may disagree that tax cuts are the best path to bringing of jobs back to America, I cannot accuse Donald Trump of not making attempts to keep his promise.
But then I digress.
Again, as simple as the recommendation for purposeful living is, it is extremely profound in what is not included. For purposeful living, basic things of life are sufficient — food, drink, shelter, clothing, internet, entertainment or recreation, means of transportation (did I miss out anything important or basic? I would like to know if you so think). Implied in the characterization of purposeful living is absence of demand for large government — the delight of American Republicans. Given everyone minds their own business, have their own work, and do not attempt to expropriate anyone else, government of necessity is lean. Social welfare exists only for the retired.
I could go on and on, but I believe I have shown in not too many words the richness of the sage advice. Whether the rubric I propose is acceptable or not, attractive or not, arrival at some generic rubric that is satisfactory for deists, theists, pantheists, atheists, or agnostics is of paramount importance for maintenance of coherence and meaningfulness of life in an increasingly philosophically fragmented world.