Existentialism is a funny thing. Based upon a rejection of modernist philosophy, its adherents, unknowing and knowing, sought a new way of life that empowered and promoted the position of the individual above that of the populace, the government, and religious institutions. These men and women saw a system that sought to squash individual rights and spirits and fought valiantly against it.
Today, however, I feel like this same elevation of the individual has become cheap and cliche. “Self-help” is an entire section of every book store. Everyone seems to love saying “believe in yourself,” including the institutions that attempt to destroy that same individuality. Effectively, we’ve taken some very good works and turned them into cheap, feel-good programs designed to make you feel better about yourself without actually changing much about you. In reality, you’ve buried reality so deep you’re out of touch with it. You’ve done exactly what existentialism DIDN’T want you to do.
You see, it occurred to a few men and women that reality was not progressing to a greater society, that life wasn’t always as rational as those who came before them wanted to think. In fact, to them, life was absolutely absurd, and rationality and reason had failed to give purpose to reality. This reality was a great weight upon them, crushing their very souls, requiring a rejection of what many thought was true and a substitution of new truth, all of this through the efforts of the individual. They became suspicious of any blind faith to reason and rationality, and encouraged others to take leaps of faith and become ubermensches and be greater than what their beliefs had allowed them to be! What did we do in return?
“5 Steps to a Better You.”
I’m not sure what I’m trying to get at here; I’m just really sick of everyone trying to be an individual, or at least think they’re trying to be. These days, being an individual means being ahead of trends in fashion, music and movies (and being a snob about it). It’s even worse that everyone wants everyone else to notice how much of an individual they are (blogging possibly being the worst sin in this area). To me, being an individual is not what you wear, what you listen to, what you watch, but purely that you are.
I recently had a huge realization (rather, an affirmation, perhaps) that God, in that He is being itself, existence itself, is the sole cause of existence (what Aristotle called “The First Cause”), and that alone is enough to imbed within all Creation a purpose, a goodness that few ever see or realize. That goodness is indeed broken by the Fall, but our ontological purpose remains, and our return to it is immanent, directed by the same First Cause working as the Unmoved Mover, bringing all things back to His original plan and divine purpose. Ever greater, therefore, is that this First Cause, this Unmoved Mover, actually gives a rip about what He caused, about what He’s moving!
The fact that you are, as the result of this Cause, is enough purpose in and of itself. It is even greater, this purpose, that the same Cause is still moving you, still pushing, still beckoning. It is in following that beckoning, that calling, that we become individuals, and our worth is found.