The reader inspired topic this week centers around the question - are we pursuing what matters? I believe this question has many layers anyone could spend a life time exploring. I will do my best to summarize it in 1000 words or less.
Discovering what matters really lies at the root of the question. Your opinion of what matters will be different from mine, and both of ours will be different from that of our parents, our friends, neighbors, and co-workers, and from people across the world. Our opinion of what matters is informed directly by our experiences, our knowledge, our faith, and our biology - none of which are identical.
Additionally, discovering what matters means that we need to narrow the scope. Are we speaking on a global scale, a scale specific only to our species or to life in general? Are we addressing what matters within our particular country, faith group, state, community, or family? Or is this a scale best discussed on an individual level? All of these facets are important, and ultimately weigh in on our individual decision of what seems to matter most in our life.
Ask yourself what matters to you. Many of you will be able to provide some sort of surface answer quickly - my family, my religion, financial security, etc. I challenge that these are not real answers, but merely surface reflections of what lies deeper. Humans tend to lack the strength to share, particularly with themselves, what their true thoughts and feelings are. We hide behind the layers of flesh covering our bones, believing that simple consideration of what we truly hold in our hearts will make us appear weak, abnormal, and ultimately susceptible to injury. I am the same way.
If you allow yourself to dig down deeper and find the truths you keep locked away, I wouldn’t be surprised if you found out a couple of things about yourself. First, you love yourself more than you think. This is healthy. By loving yourself, you are then able to express that love through your actions. If you have ever noticed, the people that seem the least able to give love are the people who have the least love for themselves. Rediscovering your love for yourself will help you discover what matters. It will allow you to find out where you prefer to direct your external love.
This will lead to the second thing you will discover about yourself. You love other people more than you think. Now, I am speaking in a holistic, humanistic, way, and not in a romantic way. By first discovering that you have hidden away your permission to love yourself, you unlock the ability to love others. Additionally, you will find that your love extends beyond the human race, encompassing all of creation. Through this love, your actions are directed for the benefit of the world.
You might be thinking now, how does this answer the question of what matters most, and are we pursuing it? It answers it in the most simple way possible, breaking the question down to its purest form. Love is what matters; once again, not just romantic love, but uncompromised, unconditional love. Our actions are then directed to seek the best for others, sometimes at the sacrifice of ourselves. I am sure you can see this in the faiths of the world, no matter which faith you observe. This is also evidenced in evolutionary studies - no species can survive when it destroys itself or its environment.
So, to answer the reader’s questions - are we pursuing what matters? I would say no. Too many of us are pursuing what matters to our surface, to our flesh, to our selfish desires. We seek out that which benefits the fewest instead of that which benefits the most. We work to attain temporary satisfaction instead of lasting internal happiness.
I lump myself in with the rest. I am in no way a perfect being, and while I am unafraid to use this forum to offer others the opportunity to find a better life for themselves, it doesn’t mean that I am there already. I know I have a long way to go. I know that I have built the mirage of a flawed reality upon that which is pure, but I work to reveal a little bit more love everyday. This is the only way I know to pursue that which matters. Somedays I fall down, but I pick myself back up and work to avoid the same missteps again.
I believe that if we were all to consider this approach, to consider this sort of introspection, we would find that our families, communities, states, faith groups, countries, and universe are centered in love. This is how we pursue what matters. By looking inside first, then sharing with everyone else the love we have found.