Erwin Schrödinger's definition of life
I can imagine that many people have sought to understand the elements that make life meaningful. In my speech I shall address this issue with the aim of giving you my perspective which I hope will provide you with a meaningful insight to life.
What makes life meaningful? Why does the answer to that question matter? Why are people innately curious? The search for the meaning of why human existence matters is no different than searching for the actual meaning of humanity. The understanding of life is intertwined with the understanding of human existence. After all, are people not living beings? According to Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger, living entities are alive because they avoid decay into disorder and equilibrium (Moore 20). Schrodinger's definition of life is an interpretation of how life and humanity go hand in hand with each other. Why do organisms, humans included, actively and proactively work to avoid disorder and equilibrium? Simply put, the human species works to influence the course of change for the sole purpose of self-preservation and betterment.
An inevitable life changes
Change is inevitable. Change occurs everywhere even without human input. For those who believe in religion, God is responsible for changes. For those who are spiritual, a higher power or powers bring about change. For the agnostic persons, maybe it is a God, gods, or nothing. The atheists will swear by science or unnamed forces of nature.
It does not matter who or what anyone believes in. Change will exist infinitely. Even supreme deities are subject to change. Perhaps a weakness they passed on to their mortal creation. Some changes are more immediate than others. Others take a longer duration to happen, but at the end, they will occur. For instance, the world will not suddenly turn into a Venus-like planet because of climate change. However, continued pollution from greenhouse gasses will eventually spell doom for the world.
When it comes to change, you either instigate it, or you conform to the after effects. Change begins with oneself. Stephen Covey states that motivation is a fire from within and that if another person tries to light a fire under you, it will burn for a short while. This is known as intrinsic motivation. When someone believes that they can make a difference, then they instigate change. However, this requires one to change their thoughts or desires to action. Hence, one has the choice to do something or sit back and watch while nothing happens, or while someone else does it.
At times there are things that are beyond our control. I remember when I went over to my aunt's home for lunch a few months back. While I was helping her with the dishes my little cousin, Katie, came up to us while she was eating a pickle. Katie proudly presented a fly on her hand that she had killed. My aunt was horrified. She swatted the nasty bug away from my Katie's hand and proceeded to wash Katie's palms with soap and water. Katie went back to the kitchen counter and continued to eat her pickle. It was then that my aunt asked Katie how she had bravely managed to squash the fly. Katie then pointed to her almost finished pickle.
Wangari Maathai - he first woman in Africa that win a Nobel Peace Prize
Wangari Maathai was the first woman in Africa to win a Nobel Peace Prize because she believed in environmental conservatism (Wangari, Rollason, and Campbell-Notman 3). What people do not know about Maathai is that her activism went beyond the environment (Wangari, Rollason, and Campbell-Notman 50-55).. Maathai had dedicated her entire life to instigating societal change. She put her life at the forefront of campaigning for political change in Kenya. Maathai's dedication towards bringing change to the corruption infested government in Kenya meant that she had to bear police beatings and jail time. Once, she even convinced her fellow women to strip in the central business district of Kenya's capital Nairobi as a sign of protest (Wangari, Rollason, and Campbell-Notman 50-55). M. Maathai instigated change within her country. Many other people have brought about change in their nations, societies, families, and even to themselves. These changes are designed for the betterment of society. Society can only thrive in optimal conditions.
Most of what is around us is a byproduct of someone else's desire for change. Rather than being followers of change, it is our humanly duty to make sure that we alter our environment in a way that makes it easier for all those who will succeed us to live. Our mortality is perhaps a gift. It is not a gift for one person but a gift given to an entire species. Mortality keeps ideas fresh. By bringing about positive change, we make ourselves better, and with each generation, life improves. Those who lived in the 20th century blessed us with vaccines to ensure that diseases like measles and rubella only exist in textbooks. They also gave us electricity to power our beloved devices. What positive changes shall we gift the next generation? What will you give to the subsequent generation?
Change is not quantified or represented by inventions such as vaccines or electricity as highlighted by Wangari Maathai's life story. The small things we do can have an effect on others. This is known as the domino effect. Similarly, the consequences of our actions can grow exponentially, as they do in a butterfly effect model.
Self-interests with self-preservation
So far, it seems as if all human beings are innately tuned to manipulate change to suit them in a way that ensures that their species survives. If that is the truth, then why are there wars, global conflicts, social evils, and other problems such as climate change? The complexities of the human mind have led me to believe that self-interests manipulate the meaning of self-preservation. When an individual's self-interests supersede their level of care for other people, then they are less likely to consider the implications of their actions on other people. Furthermore, measures that are not designed for the long-term survival of human beings are justified using economic terms.
As I had earlier explained, people can either be at the forefront of change or take a backseat and watch it happen. Continued pollution and overexploitation of the seas mean that ocean resources will be depleted. Contamination of the air has made climate change reality. Societal inequality has meant that some people cannot access essential services. By not harnessing our capability to change, we are taking a backseat to change. Human beings are not designed to take a backseat when it comes to change. If we do take a backseat, it will be similar to watching a horror show where we are the victims, and the monster will devour all of us. That is why life becomes meaningful when we push for change.
Short-term capital gains in Martin Luther King Jr. speech
In the famous Martin Luther King Jr. speech titled I have a Dream, King imagines a situation where all races interact and coexist in a peaceful manner as equals rather than one race being superior to the other (I Have A Dream Speech). Similarly, I envision a future where short term gain is not put over long term benefits. In most cases, short-term gains come at a long-term cost to society. When we learn to think collectively rather than with the imaginary boundaries which we create for ourselves we are likely to prosper. Currently, people divide themselves into corporations, political affiliations, countries, races, and ethnic groups among other factions. It is impossible to list all the divisions that man creates.
Divisions are not the problems. Self-interests from these divisions are what manipulate the course of change to favor a few over the many. People are allowed to be successful in life. But what is success if your mega mansion exists in a society where others are struggling to make ends meet, not because they are lazy but because of economic and societal pressures that ensure that they live in a perpetual cycle of poverty from generation to generation? The matrix for how meaningful a person's life should gauge how much positive change they have brought upon themselves and on others in society. After all, if our greed drives humanity to the ground, who shall we turn to, to help us rebuild if not for our fellow human beings.
As I wind up my speech, I would like to implore each and every one of you to take a holistic view of the type of change that you bring on to yourself and society. Is it positive or negative? As I have elaborated, self-interests that place personal and short term gains over long term societal benefits usually have adverse long-term effects on the well-being of society. Human beings may exist in singular form. But what people may not realize is that during their life, they exploit and manipulate the wheels of change for the betterment of the entire species. All individuals can create change. Let us use our abilities in a positive manner. Life is only as meaningful as the amount of positive change you put into it.
"I Have A Dream Speech". The Huffington Post. N.p., 2011. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
Maathai, Wangari, Jane Rollason, and Finn Campbell-Notman.T Unbowed. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2012. Print.
Moore, Walter J.T Schrodinger: Life and Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Print.
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