This I Believe

Matthew - Denver, Colorado
Entered on August 14, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: children, purpose
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I believe that we are here to make the world better for our children. This statement may sound like the musings of a parent, reflecting on the priorities of life. Unfortunately for me, I have not seen the wonder and fear of parenthood. As an aging, single man, I am not sure I will get to be a father. Instead, I suggest this statement as a metaphysical principle. In perhaps the broadest sense possible, we are here to make the world better for our children.

Metaphysics, as a term, has been sullied with a number of “new-age” uses. Traditionally, it is a branch of philosophy that is concerned with exploring first principles. This study begins with an examination of our tenets, the rules by which we live. There are many possible; among humans, there is an incredible range of behavior which could suggest diverse rules. Regardless of philosophy, faith, or background, there are some common threads; various forms of the Golden Rule can be found in all cultures. First principles are attempts to voice these broader rules. They attempt to explain and provide ideals for our behavior.

Human behavior is driven by a number of instincts. Of these, the most basic are concerned with survival. Our drives for food and shelter have been modified by thought, some of which is rational. A taste for French cooking or a preference for Victorian design are difficult to describe as purely instinctive. They may be attempts to improve the world.

I wish I could, but I can not claim that all manifestations of all instincts are directed toward improving the world. Instead, I would like to suggest that many instincts are not fully considered. Once considered, our instincts become broader, and, in a distinct way, not just about “me.” The basic fight-or-flights that rest in each one of us insist that we are part of a group. This group has instincts that have helped us survive. All of these instincts are, to some extent, concerned with providing for the next ones. Once considered, our children deserve more than food and shelter. They deserve the best of whatever we can imagine.

We are here to make the world better for our children. As a maxim, a fundamental principle, this is all that is needed for a strong moral code. If we are guided by it, all of the variations of the Golden Rules logically and necessarily follow. Ultimately, this statement may be much stronger as a measure. I hope we will come to note the strength of a society by the breadth of its understanding of “our children.”

I am here to make the world better for our children. All of our children.

This I believe.