It is easy to feel disconnected from other people. Naturally consciousness requires us to think of ourselves as separate entities from the group. With our education placing basically no emphasis on teaching existentialism, or philosophy, we are left wanting. When great tragedies happen, or when groups of people act together perilously, that divide, the apprehension of others, melts away. Soldiers form incredible bonds, as do police officers. When tragedy strikes, people know who they are, and identify others (and themselves) by their roles of survival. Finding acceptance and love is as ‘easy’ as doing a kind thing, saving a life, being loyal. Safety is the goal then, and safety is the reality now. But safety, like everything else, is multi-dimensional; people complicate things. We don’t feel connected to each-other, we don’t feel connected to ourselves, and most spend their entire lives failing to divine some grand purpose, or design to their lives. I live a perilous life, but I live it alone. I have a different take on things than most do.
I love everyone. I find fault in most, and have very few friends and no real family to speak of. But I love people. Central to my working ethical theory is the belief that anyone could have been anyone. I can say it in more complicated terms, but basically that’s what it boils down to. You could have been anyone, you could have been any number of versions of your own self as well. To me that’s the explanation, the instructions, to the Golden Rule (do unto others…). When faced with an ethical dilemma, I do not what benefits most, not what increases the most well-being, not what has the best consequences, and not what benefits me. I evaluate what’s right based on the notion that anyone could have been anyone (generalized other, or a not-so-immoral-person-hood-ethics). I get into trouble some times. People like to qualify their selfishness with the idea that they have only a responsibility to themselves. It’s this popular notion that ‘your own happiness matters the most’. Well, you could have been anyone means that you act according to ethical outcomes that ensure the world is a better place for everyone; you could have been a disabled person born in a third-world country. It gets much more complicated than that, but basically that’s what it boils down to.
When I look at people I see myself. The goal is understanding life. The products of that understanding are the same as the products of my understanding; they might be a little better, a little worse, much better, or much worse. They’re not income, status, or power. When I think about relationships I picture two people bonded like the soldiers in battle, or the cop and his partner, trying to figure out life and sharing things they find along the way. Status, looks, or money don’t weigh in at all. We’re all living differently framed lives, with different temperaments and different priorities. I feel a tremendous sense of identity in my life, I just unfortunately don’t have anyone to share that life, or that identity, with. But my loneliness, my isolation, does not change that belief, or my identity. It’s comforting to live this way. I have the best of both worlds: the sense of purpose and identity at war, and the resources and safety at peace.
“Oh while I live, to be the rule of life, not a slave, to meet life as a powerful conqueror, and nothing exterior to me will ever take command of me.”