(About a 3 minute read)
I think ever since our species first emerged in Africa, every generation of humanity has been a bit like a man trying to stand upright in a hurricane. Not one of our species has ever been strong enough to stand straight and tall for long, but even the very few who managed it for even a moment unbowed — even they have died or will die in the end.
The difference today is the major threats of the past implied local, limited devastation while today, the major threats are existential in their scope and potential impact — whether you are talking about thermonuclear war, global climate change, over-population, or a handful of others.
Having said that, how does one once again stand upright in a hurricane and thus, in effect, assert that standing upright in a hurricane is worthwhile, is the thing to do? For the alternatives seem to be despair, nihilism, and defeat.
I think there are at least a few actual answers to the question, but I would like to take a brief look at just two of the answers here.
The first answer is the one I consider the most optional, the answer we can most easily refuse. Whether or not it is a good idea to refuse it. That is, art.
Art, in this context, should be thought of in the broad sense of anything that asserts beauty has its own intrinsic value, whether it be painting, sculpting, music, poetry, or some other such thing.
The very act of asserting such a seemingly absurd claim — that is, a claim no better founded in any evidence of an objective moral order than the claim the meaning of life is to take the garbage out nightly — is both perhaps unique to our species, and the spiritual equivalent of standing upright in a hurricane.
Then again, that is what our species does, that it is nature, that is us ever since someone carved and then blew the first flute, a flute made from the naturally hollow leg bone of a bird about 60,000 years ago. It comes to our children instinctively, and continues to come to some of us through-out our lives. And it is one of a handful of things that got us this far, and perhaps it will get us some distance further.
The second answer to the question of how one is to stand upright in a hurricane is for most of us, the least optional, the answer we can least refuse. And that is, while we can take to our beds in despair and defeat, we must sooner or later get out of them again.
Or to put it differently, it seems to be generally against our nature to give up, to refuse to stand up. Some of us might not, but they are a tiny portion of our whole. For the rest of us, we seem to feel as if we have no real choice. And maybe we don’t, for we will rise from our beds even without a mustard seed of hope or faith in some one or another purpose or meaning to it all.