The Meaning of Life

I listened to a radio conversation this morning. I don’t remember how it started. The essence was that over half of the population of the US received government paychecks in one form or another. The majority of the recipients did so through some “entitlement” program.

The conversation morphed into the lifestyles of those recipients—what did they do with their time while sucking on the government teat. Studies had found—not much.

The recipients were broken down into several categories. Those on Social Security over the age of 55 were excluded for obvious reasons. They were about half of the total people. The remaining half, multi-millions of people, just existed, except for a small minority. That minority, on an individual basis, did not remain on government assistance for very long. A few years at most.

But it was that other group, those who just existed, that was the subject of the discussion. The discussion was not on the justification of the government payments. It was on the lifestyle of the recipients and the difficulties they faced.

The bottom line was that this group of people appeared to have no goals, no vision for their lives. The overall quality of their life was poor, not for a lack of funding or resources but as the people themselves stated, “My life is meaningless!”

That is a very good question, one that has been asked as long as Man has had language and the ability to look further than the next meal.

What is the meaning of Life? That question evokes a number of responses. Many will state that the meaning of life is a relationship with God. I agree with that but there are other reasons as valid for those who do not subscribe to a God-filled world-view.

I remember a statement from my college philosophy prof. It was the only thing I remember of him. The meaning of life is having something to do, something to achieve, something to look forward to. A future-ward view, he said.

I can agree with that statement too. When I was working, my work-week regularly exceeded 60 hours, sometimes more. My day would start early to allow me to speak with suppliers in the UK and extend well into the evening to allow me to converse with our construction crew in New Zealand and Australia. I was responsible for multi-million dollar projects from coast-to-coast and beyond our shores.

I had great satisfaction doing a job well, meeting requirements and delivering a finished project on-time and on or under budget. My life was problem solving. As I grew older and more experienced, the problems grew in size and complexity as did the stress.

I had several methods to combat stress. Many, like reading fiction, I retain today. But the one that worked best for me was having something to look forward to—a vacation trip, an activity, a movie (I was a Star Wars and Indiana Jones fan,) something that I could plan and take my mind off the current job at hand.

The critical component was judging what was truly important in your life, not to mistake the means for the end. I saw so many make that mistake and ruin their lives and those around them. I lived amongst workaholics and the divorce rate was astounding. They had lost sight of the final goal.

So many lost that view or never discovered exactly what the final goal was for them. I’m reminded of a scene from the movie City Slickers. Jack Palance played an old cowboy. Billy Crystal played a stressed-out urbanite.

Crystal: “Curly, what’s the meaning of life?”

Palance: “The meaning of life (holding up one finger) is one thing.”

Crystal: “What’s that one thing?”

Palance: “That’s for you to find out.”

That one scene holds so many truths. A large segment of our population has never made that discovery. Nor have they ever desired to make the effort. They have been covered, supported by the government not only all their life, but for generations before them. They exist for the here and now. Maybe tomorrow if that’s the day the government refreshes their debit cards.

A meaningless life. Not because they’ve had that life imposed on them but because they’ve never made the effort to better their life. Like Lotus-eaters, life is too easy. It’s too hard to make goals, to achieve. It’s easier to be numbed through alcohol and drugs to relieve the tedium.

I can’t say I pity those folks. They’ve done it to themselves. They had numerous opportunities to escape and have let those opportunities slide by. However poor it may be, everyone has the opportunity for an education through high school. Yet, many drop out as soon as they can and that act shuts them out of further opportunities for betterment.

One day, perhaps one soon, the gravy-train will cease. No more government money. No more life without effort nor without responsibility. The change for them will be horrifying.

I can not block that occurance, nor would I want to. Each of us is responsible for our own lives, our livelihood, our own welfare and that of our families. The public trough is drying and will be empty. What will these people do?

We’ve seen some of that in Wisconsin. The public employee unions and the leadership are a part of this group who’ve lost sight of their goals. They believe if they cry and scream, riot, ignore their responsibility, they can continue to live off others.

They lost.

The coming years, as trough after trough goes dry will see more riots, more strikes from a dying philosophy. It won’t be pretty. They, as a group, have no goals other than to maintain their current existence. They’ve not found that “one thing” that makes their lives meaningful other than maintaining the status quo.

For those of us who oppose this parasitic lifestyle, we must be strong, vigilant, and unswerving. To do otherwise is too terrible to contemplate, not only for us but for our coming generations.

We have discovered that “one thing.” It may be more than just “one thing”, it may be many. We have a goal, a destination, a completion to work towards.

We have something to look forward to and that is the One Thing.