The establishment of well-connected walking and bicycling networks is an important component for livable communities, and their design should be a part of Federal-aid project developments. Walking and bicycling foster safer, more livable, family-friendly communities; promote physical activity and health; and reduce vehicle emissions and fuel use. Legislation and regulations exist that require inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian policies and projects into transportation plans and project development.
…Transportation programs and facilities should accommodate people of all ages and abilities, including people too young to drive, people who cannot drive, and people who choose not to drive.” —US Department of Transportation (via newleft)
Life has no inherent meaning; why live it? This notion is precisely what Albert Camus describes in his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus. Camus defines absurdity as “this divorce between man and his life”. He says that when one does away with his illusions of life and realizes that they are simply that, illusions, one realizes that his habits and overall life have no meaning. This feeling of absurdity can lead to a longing of death. If life has no meaning, there can be no reason to live.
Camus goes on to explain how the asking of “why?” breaks the habits of life, awakening a consciousness of life. Although one becomes weary from their “mechanical life” in order to reach this consciousness, Camus believes this weariness is ultimately good because it causes the consciousness, a realization that life has no meaning, and thus a belief in the absurd. He goes on to say that believing in the absurd is to say that quantity, rather than quality, of experiences is more important. Although the absurd says that experience has no meaning, at the same time it urges us to get the most out of life while we have it.
In the latter portion of his essay, Camus explains why Sisyphus is an antidote for nihilism. He says that by understanding his fate, Sisyphus has become the master of it. Man’s own actions are the cause, and thus control, of his fate. Because Sisyphus knows that he must roll the stone up the mountain forever, he can control how he does so. Camus says that though there might not be an afterlife or a god to give life meaning, he says that experiencing and living life itself is reason enough for living. This belief in life’s meaning, although not inherent, can cure the feeling of nihilism and longing of death.
I agree with Camus and believe that his views give a fairly solid foundation for the belief of life without inherent meaning, as well as elimination of a complete nihilistic view. I would, however, like to throw a wrench in the gears, as it were. Although life may not have any inherent meaning, do the actions we perform and experiences we encounter provide some kind of joy, or meaning even through the pursuit of joy, and thus a rejection of nihilism? I think so. I believe that through the experiences we have, and the quality of those experiences, life is given meaning.
If we reject the notion of an afterlife and everlasting spirit or soul, that is the essence of one’s self that would travel to an afterlife, and we become conscious of the sheer finality of life, this notion of absurdity drives us to “the greatest quantity of experiences”, as Camus says. Although The Absurd says that experiences are utterly meaningless and quality of experiences is meaningless, I disagree. Why does quality of experience suddenly become unimportant? If we are to take Camus’ suggestion straight on, we would be urged to complete every task or experience imaginable, from mundane to enthralling. But say one was to start with the mundane: is this truly living? Yes, one might be in control of how he licks an envelope or folds clothes, but surely riding a roller coaster or skydiving must have some greater quality than the former tasks. The quality or meaning of the experience is not necessarily inherent or has some grand greater purpose, but importance of the experience lies within how the experience affects us and our lives, while we are still alive. We do have senses and emotions that should be stimulated and often. I for one would much rather have fewer experiences that make the finite time I have more pleasant or exciting, than experiencing many things that do nothing for the heart.
Now one might think I am suggesting a wild hedonism or that man should run amok indulging his id his whole life, but this is not so. Just because this is our only chance at life does not mean we should act with abandon. Imagine if every person did only what they felt like doing all the time; the world would be chaos. Life would only be shortened by people going on killing sprees or setting buildings on fire. We still have a responsibility to our posterity and each other. As fellow human beings together on this world, I believe it is our duty to make it as best a place we can, for ourselves and those after us so that they too may enjoy the life they have before death. Camus himself claims that living is reason enough to keep living, and I think that this duty is part of our living, though not an inherent purpose of life overall.
The experiences we have and the quality of them provide a cure for nihilism and provide life with some substance with which to justify the rejection of suicide while accepting an eventual death. To be alive and to have experiences that stimulate our senses, emotions, and minds, thus having quality, makes life truly meaningful.
“There should be headlines explaining why, for decades, what’s been called politically impossible is what most of the public has wanted. There should be headlines explaining what that means about the political system and the media.”
-Noam Chomsky” —Chomsky: Health bill sustains the system’s core ills | Raw Story