We are stardust. As is all the matter in the universe. What makes humankind different? Or fish, dinosaurs, macaques, earthworms? As far as we can tell, we are the only living organisms in the known universe. How did our bits of stardust develop to live and breathe? Humans have been trying to figure out their place in all this since the first conscious thought—individually and as a species. Every person, clan, tribe, nation, and civilization has developed explanations, usually multiple attempts, for our existence as well as rationale for our purpose, why things happen as they do, and what death is. It’s almost comical that most of those stories/explanations, no matter where or when they have been posited, are essentially the same. We’re a curious animal.
Despite the vast similarities, we sometimes (OK, usually) argue over the differences in those very shared myths and parables. Millions have died and/or suffered the most grotesque tortures for having a differing opinion in things as vague as the name of a god or whether there even is one. “History is written by the victors,” according to Churchill, and they typically also determine who is God, where is heaven and hell, and how entrance is gained or lost to either.
George Lucas introduced us in Star Wars to the mysteries of The Force. I love the idea (except for the bit about midichlorians and all that). The idea is that everything in the universe, all that stardust in all its forms, is permeated with and ruled by what is essentially a “life essence,” a sort of shared consciousness (even if some are not conscious of it). For Lucas, those most conscious are Jedi of some sort. Even there, of course, there are “good” and “bad” Force users.
Think about this for a minute, though. The whole idea is that everything, all living things in particular, come from and return to this Life Force. It also means that this essence is conscious of itself and acts with purpose! Therefore, all living things actually become living things out of a purpose conceived by the Life Force, and return to it to again become part of the overall purpose. What irritates us thinking beings is that we do not have a clue what our purpose is as individuals or as a whole. Personally, I think that in itself is our purpose.
We are an experiment, if you will, in the Life Force’s becoming a physical, living, thinking being capable of making moral decisions. When we get it, then maybe we’ll be let in on the secret before we die and return to the consciousness of the Life Force. Why aren’t earthworms or dinosaurs or other life forms conscious and thinking and making moral decisions? Well, maybe they are. Or maybe, as most civilizations’ myths point out, part of our test is how well we are stewards of the planet and all of the living things on it. On top of that, all the “natural disasters” and even death itself are part of the test to see how we cope.
Have we failed? Oh, hell, yes. Have we succeeded? We’re still here, aren’t we? Of course, in the grand scheme of things (i.e., history of the planet) we’re a very recent addition to the experiment. The dinosaurs were here for millions of years and look what happened to them!
My point: whatever you wish to call your raison d’etre or the pole that moves your moral compass, think about what you add to the human equation. Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism, Buddhism, Wicca, Shamanism, etc. (it’s like going to Ben & Jerry’s—they come in all sorts of flavors and you can get nuts with them all), or no religion at all, they share paths too similar to ignore, but we keep trying. Eventually our disagreement on such things as how many times a year to take communion (and how it’s done) may mean we become extinct and grasshoppers become sentient and take over the world.
Do us all a favor: be good to yourself and the rest of the planet.
[This commentary will most likely surprise many people, explain a few things to others, and have most scratching their heads. Keep in mind—I am accepting and tolerant of all attempts at understanding and explaining human existence and purpose; please, grant me the same courtesy.]