The Meaning of Life

Syed - Houston, Texas
Entered on March 2, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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As I stumbled across the empty desert in search of the promise land, a voice reverberated through the meaninglessness of the world telling me there is no promised land, telling me to stop before I killed myself. I ignored the divine advice and moved on. I believe in the meaningless life. I believe in existentialism and nihilism. I also believe in the objective of religion and God. I believe in the beauty of nature, and the beauty of the heavenly bodies, and the beauty of aesthetics, and the beauty of the clear morning sky, and the beauty of the dark night sky and… I believe I’m confused.

Throughout my seventeen years of living on this Earth, I have learned a lot. I have learned everything ranging from the stories of Hemingway and Faulkner to the philosophies of Locke and Hobbes to even Einstein’s theory of relativity but what I haven’t learned is why I’m here. This question of existence, of the purpose of life, haunts me. According to Howard Roark, in The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, a man without purpose is the worst of all men. Although Rand’s objectivism opposes my own approach towards life, it is still very appealing in that it deals with the purpose of men in society and the tools he uses to fulfill that purpose.

I believe in individualism but I also believe in the social contract provided by Rousseau. Rousseau argues in his book, The Social Contract that “men is born free and everywhere he is in chains.” In other words, individual must sacrifice the liberties of the state of nature and the natural right to be included in the social contract. Once an individual is in society, he must give in to the general will of the populace. That general will then serves as his reason and purpose of life. Although I’m currently part of the social contract, I do not accept the general will as my reason for existence in this world.

I stand on the border between what my religion provides me and what my innate ability to think has provided. This metaphorical border presents two options for my continuation in life. The first, the more liberal, tells me to continue on my search through the empty desert for the meaning of life while the second one tells me to follow my religion and get rescued by the purpose provided by my religion. I believe I’m living on this borderline in life.