Friday, January 11, 2008
The Meaning of Life
When I was a young child, I was told many things. I heard that my name was Brad Blackstone, that in my hometown my family was a good family, well respected and important. I also heard that I was an American, that the "American way" was very special, and that Americans on the world stage were well respected and important. I also attended church, learned that I was a Christian, and heard that Christians were good people, well respected and important among the religious people on the earth.
As I grew older into my teenage years, I wondered about what I had learned, and I tried to discern between the facts and opinions. I looked at the world around me, observed people and images on TV, in movies, amongst my schoolmates, teachers, relatives and my neighbors. I listened closely to the leaders of my country and to other leaders in the world. I read news, analysis, history and literature, and I began to wonder how I could measure the truth of what I had learned in the light of what I had observed. I passed my teenage years during the height of America's conflict with Vietnam (a real war) and the Soviet Union (the so-called Cold War), I witnessed the loss of leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Kennedy brothers, and I grew restless during the youth movement of the 1960s. I became inspired by the march for "civil rights" and by the advance of both the environmental and anti-war movements.
It was at that juncture, sometime during my mid to late teens, that I became interested in seeing the world for myself. I wanted to test my developing hypotheses, political, social, economic and cultural, with my own senses.I was no longer content to just follow my elders. I wanted to seize the day.
Since that time, I have covered lots of territory. Since leaving the comfort of my small hometown in Ohio, I have studied in a big American metropolis (Columbus, Ohio) and in the capital of the Soviet Union (Moscow). I have lived and worked in America, Portugal, Malaysia, Japan, and now Singapore. I have met many new friends, loved and been loved, raised my own family and suffered the loss of loved ones. Many people have taught me many things, both good and bad, wondrous and ugly. I have, in a sense, learned the ways of the world. So what then gives this life meaning for me?
Among other important people, you do. Our paths now run side by side. For this moment in time, we are sharing air.
Every positive encounter that we have, every bright person we meet, every new dream that we hear, each breathes life into our lungs and light into our souls. We can be as enthralled by a fruitful, personal exchange as we are by the sunrise and sunset of each day. Of course, we must lament the tragedies of this life, the inequity, the degradation, the crushed hopes. But with enlightened purpose, you and I can act in balance, counteract the negative, and bring more good to the world.
In this context, I "teach" so as to "learn," but also so as to help others explore the horizons that I have seen, to facilitate their observations, to assist someone like you in unraveling his or her own truths. In that way, as our common understanding evolves, as our "being" is enriched, our humanity --- our spirit --- can go beyond skin.
That's all. And maybe that's enough.