Apathy is a social ill that is increasingly pervasive. And yet, people are craving to find the meaning of life. What then, is the answer?
Watch this social experiment video, where a homeless child asking for help in freezing weather in New York was ignored by people passing by. And who came to the boy’s aid?
That is the social condition we find these days.
Sure, there are people who would stop to help the needy, and we applaud them with our hearts. We know there is hope in humanity. And we need more of it. We hear of people who would donate their wealth away, increasingly enlightened to the worthlessness of material wealth compared to the greater needs of humanity and the need to find intrinsic meaning in life. We are gratified.
No one is above another. Everyone is precious and has his or her own qualities, gifts, virtues, and challenges.
So, what then, is the meaning of life? Simple.
The contemporary Russian saint, St Seraphim of Sarov, said:
“Acquire the spirit of peace, and thousands around you will be saved.”
In modern matrimonial liturgies, one of the sayings of an early Christian saint, St John Climacus, author of the “Ladder of Divine Ascent”, comes to mind:
“Love bestows prophecy; love yields miracles; love is an abyss of illumination; love is a fountain of fire, in the measure that it wells up, it inflames the thirsty soul. Love is the state of angels. Love is the progress of eternity.”
The ancient Egyptian monk Evagrius Ponticus said (found in the Philokalia, or “Love of the beautiful”):
“It is better to be among thousands with love, than to hide alone in caves with hatred.”
Love for our kin and loved ones is something we understand and strive towards. These journeys are not easy, but demand much of us in labor, despite challenges we face.
And yet, the greater meaning of life is much more, and until we expand our horizons to see each other as a brother or a sister, an uncle or an aunt, a grandfather or a grandmother, a son or a daughter, then, and only then, do we slowly unveil the greater meaning of life.
Finding the meaning of life is not impossible. It calls us to open our hearts, however fragile they may be to being wounded, and embrace another with selflessness. Therein we will find something tranquil, something transcending, something penetrating, and something powerfully beautiful.