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Transcultural Friendship: Our Political Future

Chapter Six: The Future Human

Section 20: Purpose

 

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Dancer with African Rhythm Messengers performing at the San Jose America Festival on July 4, 1998.

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The individual human, helpless in worldly terms, seeks a relatedness to something larger than oneself:

 

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If we hope to live not just from moment to moment, but in true consciousness of our existence, then our greatest need and most difficult achievement is to find meaning in our lives. It is well known how many have lost the will to live, and have stopped trying, because such meaning has evaded them (Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment, p. 3).

 

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"Purpose", "meaning", and "essentiality" all characterize this striving. "Purpose" is the term preferred herein since it is the most action-oriented of the three concepts. While purpose is unique to each person, there are certain themes around which one's purpose can be woven.

 

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The first is love, which is connected with the notion of an expansive identity discussed above. Identification is a foundation for caring; caring extends to a sense of responsibility. Where one's identity is based on essentiality, one is open to understanding differences and respecting diverse others. Care, respect, understanding, and responsibility are the four elements of love (Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving.) Thus, love includes a set of attitudes toward others. The humanist would include all humans in this class of others.

 

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The second concept is work. Psychoanalysis has long recognized love and work as the hallmarks of maturity. The mature human, striving for purpose, must find it through one's efforts -- work. The productive life requires commitment. The "mature" person of the future world works at fulfilling commitments and responsibilities tied to the group one loves --presumably all human beings.

 

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It is not necessary that a person's contribution be grandiose, only essential. Helping one other person on one given day is an aspect of purpose. The important thing is to use one's unique talents to the utmost for the benefit of humanity.

 

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The third concept is synergy. Each person should direct some energy toward evolving a world where people's interests are aligned rather than opposed. So that task accomplishment is aligned with fulfillment of individual potentials. Each person, because of one's love, and through one's work, makes the world a better environment for love and work to be conducted.

 

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The final concept is education -- the means whereby a person helps others develop the capacities for love and work and to contribute to synergy. Thus, the purpose of life is to educate oneself and others so as to promote everyone's ability to form a more synergistic world. Each individual should come to see one's own unique and essential contribution to this task.

 

 

 

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