Saturday, June 11, 2011

True Meaning of Life

The death and destruction of life entailed in our modern culture, along with the efforts to counter this by fostering a culture of life, brings to the fore the crisis we are facing today. It is being addressed in philosophical critiques from thoughtful observers from around the world. A professor in the philosophy department of the Catholic University adds his reflections on this issue in the culture of life column of the Catholic Weekly. 

Beginning in the 18th century, the pervasive moral standards of the modern world, he says, have been principles derived from the philosophy and culture of  the West. In contrast to this so-called modernity, these standards are being critiqued  by a philosophy and principles of culture that understand life differently, that respects life and wants to do something about changing the standards of most societies today.

He mentions the Gospel of Life encyclical, which makes very clear the principles that are involved. The professor feels that to bring about a culture of life it is necessary to acknowledge the acquisitiveness and excessive consumption that characterize our modern culture and determine to do something about it.

During most of the last 150 years, Korea had to contend with violence, exploitation, and  barbarity. From 1970 onward we have seen many  achievements in  our culture, and society  paid for with a great price. It is a fact that much has been accomplished and brought to the attention of a  portion  of the world.

However, Scripture makes clear that our first duty is to live fully the life given at creation, and to embody its meaning  and goal. The Old Testament is asking us to do away with immorality  and search for justice. The New Testament asks us to go beyond this to empty ourselves (kenosis) so we can love, living like we were made to live at creation. Modern culture is ignorant of what is meant to live humanly and what it means to live life fully. There are many today who feel that the reason for this is the search for excess, for more wanting in all areas of life. We have objectified what we are searching for, and measure our individual life by how much we have accumulated, and in the process losing the meaning of life itself.
When doing this, the dignity of life itself is weakened; the reality of life becomes merely what each one determines to be real, according to one's personal likes and dislikes. If we are to search for life in its fullness, we must cease making everything  an object. By making possessions and our accomplishments the goals of life, we are missing the true meaning of life and its transcendence.