On Human Existence and the Purpose of Humanity

Monday, November 21, 2005


Written by Tristan Dineen

For as long as we have existed, we humans have struggled to answer such vexing questions as to who we are, why we are here, what is our purpose and how is that we came to be? For we do not know and in our desperate struggling for an answer we have killed each other, fought with one another, shamed and betrayed one another in our own desperation to make sense of ourselves as human beings and to justify our existence on this earth. We are unable to accept that we simply do not know the reasons why and likely never will know the full truth.

While we may never know how it was that we came to be, or when or where exactly, we can still know what we are. We can know what is in ourselves, in all of us, in our human minds, human hearts, human blood, and human sweat: we can know the human spirit.

We can know the true nature of who we are and what our purpose is. We can know because we must know. For we must either accept and understand what is true or we will perish in our ignorance and blindness.

We have always known that there is something within us. Something that drives us, calls us to action, drives us forward and burns bright within our emotions and our reason. There is a force, a power that shapes us and constantly influences and directs us, coming to define who and what we are. That force is our humanity and its collective spirit has burned like a raging inferno since the dawn of humankind.

We feel it everywhere we go and see it in the faces of everyone we meet. Yet it is so prevalent that we take it for granted and we too often ignore what it is that defines us, what makes us whole or hollow within: our unity in diversity. That we are infinitely vast and varied so that none of us looks the same and even if we do bear a similar visage our personality always highlights what diversity means. That we are infinitely unified, even when such overwhelming diversity is considered we are all human beings who have come from the same source of life and bearing the same biology and genetic material within us all. We bear the same empathy and recognition for one another, the need to socialize and the need to love and be loved by those of our species. We are human and we are beings of both the collective and the individual.

It is absolutely clear that the powers of the human being in mind, body and spirit eclipse that of any other species on this planet. We can do things that would be far beyond the capacity of any other animal and throughout our history as we have developed an ever greater ability to affect our world and influence nature in ever more radical ways. It would seem ironic to many people but I am convinced by the fact of our considerable power that human beings as a species possess a still greater responsibility. The greater our power, the greater our impact, the greater our responsibility will be. We are guardians of this planet and earthly life itself. This may be the reason for our incredible diversity and equally incredible unity, different human beings have different skills and abilities that when combined can produce incredible effects for good or ill.

For us to understand and to truly be happy, for us to truly fulfill our destiny and for us to save ourselves and all the world we must become whole. We must balance the two forces of unity and diversity within ourselves and within society, for these twin forces define us and they can never be forgotten. They combined together form our dignity as human beings: both distinct individuals and diverse parts of the greater whole of humanity.

The purpose of the individual human being is to realize this balance and thus constantly strive to advance their humanity and their potential as a human being. Humanity as a whole must realize their potential and never cease in its drive to achieve it. To reach the soaring heights where that potential is.

Universalism must and shall be an ideology that beats with the pulse of a human heart. Unlike the mortal heart of the individual it must be reflective of the collective heartbeat of humanity. Its infinite pulse of collective heart and spirit that all human beings share. For we are as one in our diversity.

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  1. Posted by: TKB on Nov 21, 2005 @ 10:13am

    Tristan: I appreciate your sensitivity to "the collective heart and spirit" but I must say that your focus on humans and exclusion of all non-human beings leaves me cold.

    To me, earth is one big, pulsating wonderous organism and our increasingly dubious chances of survival as a species is predicated on our ability to understand and be integrated with the true "collective heart and spirit", not just the human part of the equation. Indeed, our virus-like maladaptation to this planet is a direct result of losing the connection to the true "whole".

    I'm all for assuming a greater sense of responsibility, but if it comes from an arrogance of our superiority "far beyond the capacity of any other animal" than I don't hold out much hope.

  2. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Nov 21, 2005 @ 9:17pm

    But you cannot ignore the fact of our power. With power comes responsibility and we must act in a responsible manner. I focus on human beings because I am one, as are you and every other literate creature on the planet, no ocelots are going to be reading this piece.
    We must protect the world precisely because it is our purpose as human beings to do so. Only we have the power to do so. Don't think that I am advocating that we ignore the other species of this world because that would mean neglecting our duty. We as human beings truly are the world's guardians, if we do our duty the world will thrive, if we do not the world is finished. That is as clear as I can put it.

  3. Posted by: BC on Nov 23, 2005 @ 11:43am

    I will assume your assumptions are true. But, Where is responsibility imprinted within us as individuals or a species? Maybe our true calling is to do whatever we want and try to escape personal consequence. Maybe humanity wants to do the same, f*ck the planet and let nature make the bed. No one knows for sure, but if necessity is a guide, self-preservation ranks above forced consensus. As such, maybe as a species we need truths to blur our inevitable decline, but as an individual I don’t need your truth. Be weary, most demagogues begin their trade as truth mongers.

  4. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Nov 23, 2005 @ 11:28pm

    You probably would have said the same thing to Winston Churchill when he first warned England about Nazi Germany and was dubbed a warmonger. The complacent dig their own graves.

  5. Posted by: BC on Nov 24, 2005 @ 1:53am

    Actually I would have told Winston Churchill to look out for the Nazi's and that he would know them for believing 'we are as one in our diversity', rather than a more accomadating 'seperate, but equal', thanks anyway Hitler

  6. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Nov 24, 2005 @ 9:40pm

    Your comment is incredibly insulting to me. Clearly your accusations are merely a result of your complete inability to make a cohesive argument. Stop wasting my time. If calling me "Hitler" is the best you can do you should shut up and leave this forum for those people with serious arguments of their own. If you really want to debate this topic, get a grip on history instead of making baseless assumptions.

  7. Posted by: BC on Nov 25, 2005 @ 12:41am

    You implied that you were modern Churchill and I that I was a Nazi conspirator. I figured since you had no problem with being a future demagogue and you were indifferent to the ‘complacent’ that you could also use your ‘unlimited potential’ to one day become modern Hitler. You construct people who work for unity as chosen, while you underestimate the restraints of diversity. Your self-serving construction of the universe and truth as intertwined and supportive of human co-operation and integration overemphasizes the power of your argument to unify humanity. Our disagreement should be evidence enough to illustrate that every one isn’t compatible. You should not advocate total ‘unity of diversity’ in a forum funded by the broad student body. My tongue in cheek suggestion to look into Plessy v. Ferguson or ‘separate, but equal’ was a request for a degree of accommodation. Unexpectedly, like Plessy v Ferguson you want me to leave the public space, which you believe is solely yours. Amazing, how someone who professes Universalism, resorts to a basic form of discrimination.

  8. Posted by: BC on Nov 25, 2005 @ 1:30am

    And in case you couldn’t understand my basic argument:
    Arguments unify or split humanity, your argument is self serving because it is hegemonic, hegemonic because you define universal congruency as dependent on parallelism to your truth, your truth defines human co-operation and integration as necessary to become universal, but I disagree with your hegemonic stance, so I disagree with your argument, our argument splits humanity, without my co-operation and integration your truth will not be universal, I chose neither to co-operate or integrate. Therefore you must change your argument to a unifying argument if you seek co-operation and integration. An agreeable argument to me holds no universalism or truth. Take your pick. Anyways, sorry about the Hitler comment, I wanted to get a rise. Just looking for an excuse not to write essays.

  9. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Nov 25, 2005 @ 11:33pm

    Those last few sentences say alot. Anyways thats a valid argument. Realistically however it doesn't work. This is why the UN rarely gets anywhere. It needs the consent of too many parties with differing agendas. Consent is good, cooperation is excellent, but requiring the consent of every human being on the planet in order to create a world government is lunacy. I don't expect everyone to agree with me, that would be a foolish assumption in any situation, there will be many people like you. Remember it is easy to criticize someone else, but it is much harder to propose a solution yourself. I am a giant step ahead of you.

  10. Posted by: BC on Nov 26, 2005 @ 2:22am

    You have made your article a personal representation and accordingly take each criticism far too personally. You are not a giant step ahead; you are just a giant bit more insecure. We are all a process, not a minor example of broader processes. You must realize that your article is a part of your personal belief system rather than a representation of anything real. I am a pragmatist and in my opinion your continued response and attention to your article is an active solution. Your article is merely an instrument to share yourself to everyone else. You continually try to correct me, when our arguments are really just mirrored. As such, my solution is the advice I have alluded to, give yourself a chance to make mistakes and you will never be wrong. Abuse those who you think are wrong and be distracted from a solution. The solution isn’t anything, but an admission that processes are controllable until we are incapable of performing a solution. Beyond circular arguments, our dance is a working solution.

  11. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Nov 26, 2005 @ 11:03pm

    Now your making the relativist argument. I am not surprised. Pragmatism is pessimistic and hollow unless it serves a higher goal. And since you apparent don't believe in such things I won't press the issue. There are higher truths in this world if you care to look for them.

  12. Posted by: kyle on Nov 30, 2005 @ 9:30am

    What truth? Are you, Mr. Dineen, the holder of such truths?

    It is all well and fine to call someone a relativist, but an absolutist position such as yours is far more dangerous. Truth may exist, but only in the eye of its beholder. No two people view something exactly the same way.

  13. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Nov 30, 2005 @ 11:23pm

    Unfortunately that seems to be the common opinion in society today and it doesn't say much for the health or unity of society.

  14. Posted by: Kyle on Dec 2, 2005 @ 8:47am

    How would you get people to view the world in the same way, or to accept the same "truths"?

    I'm not saying disunity is a good thing, but it's better than a falsely-created set of absolute truths that are simply accepted as infallible.

  15. Posted by: Tristan Dineen on Dec 3, 2005 @ 12:08am

    That is true, and that is why we cannot have a fixed set of absolute truths. We need a framework which allows for flexibility. But we have to have certain criteria.

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