Saturday, February 16, 2008

Extrastentialism

"We Do All That We Can Do, the Best We Can, and Await the Results"
- Literal translation of the Japanese word "Nintendo"

It has been established that I have some unique views about spirituality, philosophy, and the function and purpose of the Universe, as well as our places in it. Most people get the answers to these questions from organized religion. My sources are no more or less real than that, but they are generally more entertaining. My view of the world is mostly cobbled together from pieces of Futurama, Native American Mythology, Boondocks, large doses of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and bits and pieces of whatever theologies I find convenient at the moment. From these sources, and many more, I have cobbled together a word to describe my world view. This sorta new philosophic theology I call Extrastentialism.
Extrastentialism is on the surface the exact opposite of existentialism. The main theme of existentialism is "A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts." The way I see it, the universe is anything but indifferent, but it is definitely hostile. The world as we know it is not set up to let humans survive. This is largely our own doing, but we love to blame the things that are wrong in the world on God. Even worse, we constantly ask him or her to fix the messes that we, as humans, have made for ourselves. And I’m not just talking about things like pollution, war, and general cruelty. I’m talking about the little stupid things that we do to ourselves, like getting pregnant when we have no business having children, pushing away the men and women who love us most, or drinking and driving. These are afflictions that do not come from God, but from our own foolish choices. And instead of doing what we have to to fix these problems, we pray, or have lucky charms, or trust in any number of invisible forces to pull our fat out of the fire.
The Universe is not, however, indifferent. Simple physics teaches us that everything is interconnected, that everything in the universe is affected by everything else in the universe. Existentialism leads most people to a feeling of nihilism where they believe that nothing matters, least of all arbitrary distinctions such as good and evil. That is part of the equation, but it is not the whole story. That’s where my thing differs, I say that everything you do matters to someone or something. The problem with humans is that we tend to get so wrapped up in ourselves that we stop seeing how interconnected we are with the world. If we spent more time thinking about all of the positive and negative effects we have on the world, no matter how large or small, I believe there would be less suicides. Suicide happens when people lose their connections, when they feel that they have no effect on anything in the world. The ironic and sad fact is that suicides cause a huge negative effect on the world. They create a vacuum in the string of cause and effect that powers reality, a vacuum which is inevitably filled in with negative emotions. Everything you do causes far ranging effects, a theory known as the "Butterfly Effect". The butterfly effect is a mathematical representation of chaos that shows how the smallest action has the biggest effects. Whether you leave for work at 8:10 or 8:15 matters, and it likely effects a large number of people in the world. Therefore, careless actions should not be done so carelessly, because who knows what you are doing when you say things like "I am having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle". The point? Do whatever you can, and do it well. Chances are if you do something good, it will spread and have many more positive consequences than you intended, most of which you will never see. Likewise, negative actions spread out in a wave of negativity across the universe, carried by hundreds of trillions of little cause and effect coincidences and actions. So everything you do does matter, so try to make the things you do improve the world. It will help, even if you don’t think so.
This brings me to the point where extra and exi-stentialism cross over. I believe that we make our own miracles, luck, fate, etc. We have freedom of choice, we have knowledge and freedom of thought, which is either a blessing or a curse depending on your theological views. I learned that invisible forces may or may not effect our lives, but we can have a more immediate effect on our realities. There is no fate but that which we make for ourselves. We have to give our own lives meaning. If you count on outside forces to give you a purpose for living, you will be waiting a long time. The Universe may not be indifferent about what you do, in terms of cause and effect, but that does not mean that it cares about, say, whether you chose to become a dentist or not. It is only concerned with the effects of you becoming a dentist or not. As Shakespeare’s Caesar said, "The fault lies not in the stars, dear Brutus, but in ourselves". That’s basically the point of Extrastentialism. Things are not going to get done unless you get off your ass and do them. Everything has a point, a reason, and cause and effect. You just have to assign meaning to events in your life, and no matter what happens after that, you have done a little bit more to order your universe. Of course, life is not going to go the way you want it to, but my philosophy allows people to change, adapt, and move with a chaotic and hostile world. In the end, the only thing we can depend on is ourselves, for we always have ourselves there to depend on. Again though, you can only depend on yourself if you believe you can. Faith and belief really are the basis of functioning in this world, but that faith and belief has to be personal for it to be of any good. And that, in a convoluted and confusing way, is extrastentialism. It may sound silly and impractical, but it works for me.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You made my day! Thanks: Ypip.

Jordie said...

THis is so true, people use relision as a crutch to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. I have a teachers whos husband stood up in church and asked god to help him with his addiction to hokoers! Yet he is above me becasue i dont neccessarily believe in god? And he goes to church where i watch boxing on Sunday mornings.. thhis means he is above me.. Maybe in his mind. What i do in this life means something to the people i care about moist. IN THE NOW. Not the "afterlife" , if there even is one. We learn through our youth to become a good person and live a well rounded life and becasue i stopped going to church due to the phoney people on thier blackberries who were only there to say to their frinds that they go to church. This just means that i amm an Extrastentialist and believe that i am who is going to make the world a better lpace. Not god, not satan not ALah, ME!

Anthony James Januszewski said...

Ive just read this with my girlfriend. Thank you so much. It was very thought provoking :)