Grok Death to Grasp Life, Part 2

tombstone

If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, check it out here.

And on we go with Part 2 of Grok Death to Grasp Life…

ABOUT THE “BIGGER PICTURE”:

We seek to leave a mark on the world during our lives.

This mark we hope to leave, it is usually on human society. We hope to change something that is within the purview of all of humanity, but is bigger than ourselves. That’s the goal. The heroes we hear about all have this in common. They did something that made the world better. But what is the world? In this case, it is the human world. They did something to the people or to the people’s environment for their own betterment. They saved human lives. They made a piece of art that humans enjoy. They represented a belief that they think humans ought to believe. Mt. Rushmore was not made to improve the mountain. The Mona Lisa could be a thing of beauty or an ugly smear on an otherwise beautiful canvas, depending on who the valuer is. Whose perspective is the originator of the value? Maybe they think naturalism was more meaningful before Thoreau. Maybe they think architecture would be more advanced if there had never been a Frank Lloyd Wright. Maybe they think the moon was more inspiring before we set foot on it in 1969.

These examples contain values: meaningful, advanced, inspiring. They, too, imply a valuer. There are no values without a valuer. Thus, all values are inherently and entirely subjective. This may make you uncomfortable to think about, but what this means is that everything you do to improve the world is profoundly arrogant.

If someone lifts a finger to save a life, and someone else paints Town Hall blue because they like it better than white, these two acts are similarly self-centered. You save a life because you believe that saving a life is a good thing to do. Not because it necessarily is. You acted on your value. Others may agree and back you up. They may not, just as those who don’t like Town Hall blue will not. Values are entirely subjective. There are no intrinsic values. Anyone who tells you there are, is defending their beliefs by pretending that those beliefs are congruent with objective reality. And if you sense anger behind the defense, you are seeing the fear that comes from understanding (on some level) that they have no basis for their actions except personal preference.

The concept of the “bigger picture” is an adjunct to this pretense. It is a lie. When someone says they are trying to accomplish something because they’ve got their eyes on the bigger picture, what they are saying is: I am privy to the understanding of what is better for everyone, and if you agree with me, you are too.

Feeling a bit challenged by any of this? Chime in. Hate mail is fun. Part 3 next week.

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