Ofek Gila's The Meaning of Life
Original, Unmodified Speech #
January 31st, 2017 (title known earlier, January 30th, 2017) #
Recap: You ultimately care only about yourself, but you can still do good things, if you can justify why you do them.
Now to answer the dilemma: If you ultimately care only about yourself, how could you be willing to die to save someone else’s life?
The answer is actually quite simple. The question only seems tricky because it fails to define what caring for yourself entails. In order to define this, we must define a meaning of life (note that your meaning of life may change with time).
If the meaning of life was to live—as long as possible—then no, it makes no sense to sacrifice your life for someone else’s. However, that is obviously an illogical meaning for life. If it were, you would never eat unhealthy food, drive a car, or do anything that increases your risk of death.
A much more common/realistic meaning of life is to maximize your happiness during your lifetime, and following this meaning, you can actually explain sacrificing your life in such situations logically. If losing a person you love dearly would cause you so much pain as to cancel off any possible happiness you could gain in your life, then it would be reasonable to die knowing you saved their lives.
To understand this point better, imagine a mother who knows that she had the choice between saving her own life and saving the life of her son, and she chose to save her own life. She’s going to live with that decision all her life, and, chances are, she’s going to regret it. The pain she feels with her dead son overwhelms the happiness she could have had dying with the knowledge that she saved his life.
The meaning of life that I currently follow, however, is quite different. I believe that the meaning of life is to form and have meaningful connections with other human beings. Note that your meaningful human connections may exist after either of the parties is gone from this earth, dead. This helps justify the previous dilemma as well.
If I were to save my own life instead of that of someone I have a very strong meaningful connection with, I would lose that human connection knowing that I saved my own life over theirs. If I had saved their life, then even though I die, they live—and they still maintain a meaningful connection with me. Therefore, sacrificing my life to save theirs is justified.
Now there’s another point that you might have considered, which is this: especially at such a young age, if I sacrifice one human connection this way but live, won’t I have the potential to make many more human connections throughout my lifetime?
Next post #
In the next post, we talk about we all categorize everything we see, objectifying people, etc., and how it’s important to be conscious of it, it is also important to understand its value.