Community//

How to Make Sure You Matter

“While we are here, we have the self-obligation to bother and the self-obligation to act as if we matter, a mattering that includes acting ethically and putting the whole world on our shoulders.”

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Lighting the Way introduces kirism, a modern philosophy of life
Lighting the Way introduces kirism, a modern philosophy of life

[This post is part of a series introducing kirism, a modern philosophy of life. You can learn more about kirism in Lighting the Way: How Kirism Answers Life’s Toughest Questions.]

Starting in the seventeenth century, we experienced four hundred years of the celebration—and inflation—of the individual. Certain amazing ideas bloomed and some even more amazing realities followed. We got individual rights!

We got the sense that man might get to know himself and his world. We got scientific and technological progress on all fronts. There we were, beating back disease and living long lives. A wild, strange euphoria arose: man mattered!

But disaster was brewing. We pushed the curtain back and stood face-to-face with a reality so cold that the space between the stars seemed blazing hot by comparison. Science, unintentionally and without malice, knocked us down a peg.

And holocausts continued. People still starved. With nuclear weapons came our ability to extinguish the species in the blink of an eye. Man, for all his supposed progress and grand enlightenment, dropped a huge notch in his own estimation.

The more that we announced that man mattered, the more that we saw that he really didn’t. The better we understood that the dinosaurs could be extinguished by an asteroid strike, the better we understood our own individual fate.

The better we understood the power of microbes, and even as we worked hard to fight them, the better we understood that something invisible and endlessly prevalent could end our personal journey on any given afternoon. Boom!

The more science taught us, the more we shrank in size—and shrank back in horror. You could build the largest particle accelerator the world had ever seen and recreate the Big Bang—and, psychologically speaking, end up with only more of nothing.

Even more of nothing. And this is where we are today; and this is what a kirist faces. We had somehow wagered that well-stocked supermarkets and guaranteed elections would do the trick and protect us from the void. They haven’t. This we face.

This now shared certainty that we are throwaways has made life look completely unfunny. We can laugh and make small talk but in most of our private moments there is not much laughter. There is only a deep, wide, abiding “Why bother?”

Kirists answer that question in the following way: “While we are here, we have the self-obligation to bother and the self-obligation to act as if we matter, a mattering that includes acting ethically and putting the whole world on our shoulders.”

**

Eric Maisel is the author of 50+ books. Read Lighting the Way and join the meaning revolution!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Are You Man Enough?

by Edmund Martin
Community//

Today to Tomorrow

by Princy Lalawat
Community//

Joe Rogan Interviews SEAL and Ultra-Endurance Athlete David Goggins

by Chip Franks

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.