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Thread: Consistent conundrums

  1. #1

    Default Consistent conundrums

    Many things happen all in one day. New people enter the world, new ideas are introduced. (For the most part) people get smarter, people become more open-minded, lives are saved, etc.
    But then there's the bad. Things such as Syria, wars, children dying, world population, etc.
    My day is usually a pretty good day right up to the point at night when I lay down in my bed and just think. Sometimes for hours on things like this.
    Why is it that people just can't get along.
    Why have all this good in the world if it means nothing in the face of wars, death, and the uncertainty of the stability of nations.
    Then I tell myself: what is it all for?
    Why worry, in the end of your life on this insignificant planet, your impact will be almost negligible. The only thing you'll leave is not footprint on history, but a carbon footprint.

    - Posting something like this on adisc I don't really expect to receive much of response. People, understandably, don't seem to want to talk about this stuff. (Unless people do want to, but for the most part, in my life, none of my friends seem to want to.)

    - I want to dive deeper into the "why" aspect of these topics. I want to understand something that I may never understand, but will try anyways.
    Last edited by Cranky; 16-Sep-2013 at 00:54.

  2. #2


    To be honest, this sounds very familiar but I worry that it may scare you if I straight out say why so I'm going to pack this sentence a bit more with nothing much. I can get stuck in a loop of bad feelings about this kind of stuff for hours and days at a time but its usually when my depression is heading towards its deepest low so this kind of thinking has become a warning light to me.

    I'm learning to not dwell on this kind of stuff and I'm trying to change the 'why bad things happen' as maybe I can make a tiny difference to how the world is.

  3. #3


    If there was no bad, there'd be no good. What is good when there is no bad? Would you ever, for example, recognize your health if you never got ill? Would you ever recognize consciousness if you never slept? You see the bad because there is the good and you see the good because there is the bad. That's part of much of the dualities seen in life. Things can not exist without their counterparts.

    There's a great many reasons why people think bad things happen. Some people say it's due to free will. Some people say it's due to the pure nature of humanity. Some people have more esoteric ideas about demons and devils. But, I think we can agree that bad things happen. That's where the good needs to come in. Seeing that it's September, one example stands out to me, as it might you. On 9/11 two things happened. First, the bad thing. People flew planes into buildings to kill innocent people for their political cause. Then a good thing happened that same day. Firefighters and rescue workers and civilians saved lives, people helped each other, phone operators calmed panicked victims, and people ran into the flames to save some lives. Families reunited with hugs or comforted each other in the face of loss. There were far more heroes that day than there were villains.

    But what is it all for? What is the point? Really, honestly, I think the meaning of life is to give your life meaning. And it seems like an appropriate time for you to do just that, Cranky, as it appears you're having a bit of an existential crisis. From what I can tell so far, you want the world to be a better place. You want there to be less bad than good. I think that's a very beautiful and even an attainable goal. Not every duality has to be equal. Most people are sick far less often than healthy. I think your goal is a noble one. So perhaps the meaning of your life, you already know, to make the world more good than it is right now. To make people feel peace because you have existed! It seems you are concerned about the environment, as well, and helping make the earth healthier is another terrific goal!

    Everyone's goals and personal meanings are a bit different. Some people have more spiritual goals and some people have more grandiose goals of money and fame, but that doesn't mean they have found the meaning of your life. Your meaning may change as you grow, or it may stay the same, but your meaning is no more or less valid than anyone else's meaning. You are the only one who can find meaning for your life, and you're making the appropriate steps, just by thinking about it and by thinking of how you view the world, life, and your place in it.

  4. #4


    In some ways, this might sound like a stock answer, so please forgive me if that's how it reads.

    Absolutely, there are many bad things in the world. Wars, poverty, droughts, starvation, earthquakes, industrial accidents, pollution of our food and air and water and soil are the biggies many would think of, but there's way more to it than that. There are bright people that are being denied opportunities to contribute to society. There are those that once had great potential that have squandered it in pursuit of the next high. There are magnificent buildings and other impressive human constructions decaying and going to waste. Innocent people are beaten, murdered, kidnapped, raped, and robbed. Kids are bullied and teased. Minorities are mocked and discriminated against. Terrible things happen the world over.

    I'd like to think that one person can make a difference, though. Sure, it is unlikely that one person will change the world, but not impossible. Penicillin, so the story goes, was one scientist that accidentally discovered the curative effects of mold previously considered poisonous. But let's go further. One person can be a catalyst for change, and one person contributing his or her labors to the labors of many others can do extraordinary things. Consider the pyramids, which are believed to have been constructed by thousands of slave laborers using little more than sheer effort and crude tools.

    In my own life, I'm witnessing this sort of thing right now. I bought an abandoned duplex in Detroit last year from tax foreclosure auction, and I'm now working to refurbish it as the beginning stage of starting a real estate development business. Those who have watched "Property Wars" know that one cannot do thorough inspections on auction properties (although Wayne County's tax foreclosure auctions work more like eBay auctions so one at least has ample time to see what there is to see). After I bought it and spent more time in it and in the neighborhood, I was concerned that I had made a terrible mistake. Of the six remaining structures on my side of the block, only two were inhabited. On the other side of the street on my block was an abandoned six-flat apartment building, a fire-damaged house, and two other abandoned houses. Only one house and two six-flat apartment buildings had any residents at all on that side of the street. I found myself wondering if I had misread my previous research.

    Since then, though, three other people have purchased what were abandoned houses on my block. Now, every single house on my side of the block, save one, is either occupied or being refurbished, as is one on the other side. The earlier residents have begun doing more work and maintenance on their homes, too. I on my own have not saved [name of] Street, nor will I say that it's saved yet. But after talking to neighbors, I know I was somewhat of a catalyst. I bought my house and started working on it, and others saw that I was investing and felt it might be a good block. One (now) neighbor was looking for houses in that area because he had a good feeling. He saw the sign in the house that he bought and got it for a steal. The only reason the sign was there and the price was so low was because I had walked away from buying that house when I couldn't get the company that owned it to bring the price in line with its condition. After I walked, they reexamined the property, saw I wasn't BSing them, and started marketing it more heavily to get it off their books.

    One person can be a catalyst, and many people pulling together can move the heaviest loads. [Neighbor] couldn't have moved his countertop on his own, but five of us were able to move it easily. I did not and do not have the money or resources to refurbish four houses on [name of] Street (or any street, for that matter), but I can do one house and [neighbor] can do the one next door and [neighbor] can do one and [neighbor] can do the one across the street. We're building on the work that many others have done in our neighborhood and others in the city, and if others build on what we're doing on [name of] Street, Detroit will not only stabilize but prosper.

    Don't spend too much time worrying about the war and droughts and Fukushima, since things on that scale are beyond our direct control (unless a national leader is reading this, in which case, I implore you to stop the wars!). Don't worry about every slight or offense, since someone tossing a cigarette butt out their car window or calling you a nasty name, while wrong, is not worth losing sleep over.

    Instead, figure out what you're passionate about, what cause(s) make your righteous fury burn and/or get you out of bed in the morning, and then get to work on those. I mean, I care about animals and the environment and war, but those aren't my passions. The animals don't get me out of bed in the morning (well, my cats sometimes do, but I've already saved them). Stopping war doesn't get me out of bed in the morning. But Detroit, Detroit gets me out of bed in the morning. Yeah, it's got some big issues, and it's a tough place. But, there are a lot of good people, and they're trying to make the best of the bad situation and get along in life. There is so much potential, great building stock going to waste, and it simultaneously holds us back, offers so much potential, and just awaits the right people to bring it back to life. There are locational advantages, great human capital, and an incredible spirit.

    Even if it's something you can't do as a career, figure out what your passion is and do something with it. If you're worried about war, go protest or something. If you're worried about the animals, go volunteer with a rescue group. You might not change the entire world, but if you and a few friends go pickstick trash for an afternoon, you can clean up a neighborhood. If you and a thousand others start working to help the animals, then you'll make a big difference. If you and 50,000 others go protest a war, you might get your message out there and get people thinking about it and writing their congresspeople.

    And with your collective efforts and your example acting as a catalyst, you just might make some change in the world.

  5. #5


    There is no inherent meaning or purpose to life. If there is such thing as a creator, then I think it's either a general force of nature like gravity or some IT nerd called Gavin who left his Sims game running while he went off to class. I view humans as a random happy (or not so happy depending on how this all pans out) mistake. You were lucky enough to reach the egg first, so your reward is 70+ years physical experience at life.

    While you're here, you can do whatever the hell you want. There are no fixed rules and you can leave early if you feel like it. Some people decide to spend their allotted time making cool stuff for the next batch of winners to play with, some people get pissy about how other people are spending their time and try to control them, other people are curious about how this place is put together and want to know how everything works, other people are too scared to leave by themselves and try to avoid it at all costs or blow the place up so everyone has to leave! The vast majority of people have no idea how they got here, and spend most of their time panicking over what they should be doing!

    Bad stuff happens because there is more than one person alive in this place.

  6. #6


    The real conundrum is you are examining your beliefs and are discovering they aren't adequate to explain the things you observe. A lot of people latch on to some belief or other in order to avoid dealing with the apparently unsolvable riddle of why we are here. It makes no real difference which god or non-god philosophy one chooses to believe in as long as the belief is strong enough to shield one's self from having to face dreadful existential questions. I believe you are the answer you are looking for, but then, this is just a belief on my part and, as such, is no more meaningful than any other belief. I think you are looking for knowledge beyond beliefs. Accept the fact that some things make you feel bad and some things make you feel good and move on. Don't give up the search.

  7. #7


    It's actually quite heartening to see someone so young showing concern about the current state of the world. It means you want to make a difference but you're not sure how. With everything going on in Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, it can all seem overwhelming and the actions of a lone individual may seem inconsequential.

    Youth and idealism against the real world. Feels like David against Goliath.

    I felt that way myself at your age. I wanted to make a difference in the world but I had no idea what to do. I also came from a very conservative, uptight family which measured other people by how much money they made, the hell with hippies and all their peace talk. I floundered through my twenties, trying to find a place where I belonged.

    It wasn't until I was twenty-eight years old that I encountered a woman who changed my life. She was the Director of an agency where I was doing a placement through my social services program. She recognized my passion and commitment and she helped me focus it. I learned from her the issues of social justice, how to influence the political system, how to involve the community in a cause, and utilizing the resources available to lobby for change.

    She taught me that I could maintain my passion and idealism, but also that I could do it in ways that were practical and pragmatic, working through the systemic structures and influencing legislative policy. I learned to become an advocate, an activist, and an agent of change. She helped me find my place in the world by taking a chance on me. She passed away recently from Alzheimer's and I can only hope to continue her work and keep her memory alive.

    What I've learned throughout the years is the following:

    Identify specific goals. Of the issues you identified, pick the one that you feel most passionate about.

    Act locally. Find out if there any groups in your community that are working on these issues. Volunteer work is a great place to start. It can help you develop a greater knowledge about the issues and you can learn what can be done to make a difference. It's also empowering to learn you're not alone in your feelings.

    Real change happens over time. We are not going to solve all the world's problems overnight, that's why we sometimes feel overwhelmed. The hardest battles have been fought for decades or centuries, such as the civil rights movement, women's rights, freedom on South Africa. The most worthwhile battles occurred over generations, but they were successful because of young idealists who never wavered in their convictions.

    I would disagree that the footprint you leave behind is negligible. You may not be able to change the world, but you can work on changing your own little corner on the planet.

    You have passion, idealism and a conscience. This should not be a burden, but rather, a gift to be shared.

  8. #8


    I totally agree with 'start locally'. Wherever I've lived I've always started up small community groups for various things that were missing that I wanted to be involved in (book club, art group, fitness, personal finance, etc). Find a free public area (park, pub, cafe, etc) and advertise online/in local shops and give it a few weeks and people will start to show an interest and join in. Pubs are the best, as you quickly build up a good relationship with the staff if you're regularly bringing extra customers in for a group (who are likely to buy drinks/snacks during the meeting). So not only do you end up with a community group that benefits yourself and locals, but a local business benefits from it too (I always try to pick independents rather than chains like Starbucks or Costa).

    On a related note, teaching is definitely the best way to learn something in more depth. The last place I lived, I started an art group to motivate myself to paint more (since I'd been slacking a bit). We ended up with about 7-8 kids that came along with their parents, and I think it's split into 2 or 3 regular groups now and is still going strong 3 years later. People brought along whatever project they wanted to discuss/work on and in the end we took over the entire back room of the pub with our 'gathering'. We would share whatever we had learned/heard about with the others and have little 'presentations' or debates, or give each other feedback on work.

    Build it and they will come!

  9. #9


    Have you heard the story of the starfish?
    A little boy is walking down the beach with the tide out. Every few steps he stops and throws a starfish back in the water.
    A man is watching him. When he finally get to the man he tells the boy that there are too many starfish and he can't possibly make any difference.
    The boy bends down and picks up another starfish and tosses it back in the water. "I made a difference in the life of that one" and walks on throwing starfish in the water.
    If you make a difference in only one persons life it is worth it.

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