As an individual, how do you feel about your life within the society you are living today? Is it a kind of life that you think fair enough and worthy of appreciation and gratitude? Considering other people’s well-being and the existence of other creatures on this earth living together with us, do you think we need more sincere effort to fix our social issues and flaws? Would you think it’s worth the effort, maintaining our current lifestyle, and that these are all necessary to sustain life; to commodify our own time to the fullest and capitalize carelessly on our natural resources? Does it still look sacred to you when you peer into the picture of both our humanity and our home? These are all serious questions we cannot resist to not ask. To these questions, of course we have different answers, depending on how we look at things. But also, there are some things we must have an agreement points with in some issues.
For decades now, people have tried all sorts of alternatives such as being a vegetarian or a vegan, having a purely natural lifestyle, being an organic gardener, becoming celibate, living remotely being an anti-civilization, anti-technology, etc., to fix our collective common human problems, interconnected from personal to ecological, and its overlooked connection to our spiritual crisis yet it seems the situation is still problematic and it’s still hard to put the pieces back into its proper place again. Too many efforts have been put out and tremendous amount of organizing and actions have been dedicated, along with various idealism and schools of thought (or philosophies), yet still today, for example, mining companies are still ruthlessly destroying the remaining few pristine places of the planet and can still freely create tons and tons of plastics for people to use for few times and then throw away.
Then, many of these corporations sell us toxic food which they market deceptively, usually with the help of famous celebrities and artists on their advertisements, and get us hooked up through both our physical sensation and psychological vulnerability. Using hype, again, through the help of famous celebrities (that are too comfortable to lie) and sugar, among many other additives and preservatives which are cancer causing agents. They keep not only children but also adults addicted to their various dangerous substances, legal and illegal, be it beverages, candies, coffees, animals or purely artificial stuff. Well, with all these circumstances beyond our control (for now), what should we do to draw inspiration and motivation to continue live and be a service to others? One source is our connection to philosophy. We have been given a wonderful brain and a heart that appreciates how important are the reasoning and the words to the evolution and development of our specie and other beings on this planet. Philosophy will put as back to nature, to organic dimension, and to the various realms of physical and metaphysical world.
So, of course there are still wonderful things happening on many sides of the globe. If you take a notice, on the parts of Asia for example, many people are still enduring life with enthusiasm and motivation. One reason is that many of the countries on this part are still not fully westernize and are not so entirely dominated by American values as they have their own eastern philosophical roots. They have not been infected with toxic nihilism and ultra-narcissism being spread by the western media through popular culture and political shows. They are also not totally dependent on their government in terms of individual decision makings and choices especially those that are related to their spiritual practices. In some few communities too which are somewhat independently set up (ex. intentional communities, eco-villages, religious communities, artists communities, etc.) things are running a bit different, usually more efficient, ecological, humane, and sustainable compared to the capitalist social system that we are living under currently.
If you see the pattern there, what philosophies do is strengthen our mind and prepare us to other possibilities with much mindfulness and calmness against the situation. Philosophers have existed since the ancient world yet the sad part is that majority of the people these days do not pay respect and do not value them, let alone know them. This is why many people do not know their importance as our sources of role models as a society and as an individual. Like the stoics for example, they have established (discovered?) some fundamental truths that can be present in many cultures around the world or that can be used to deal with daily situations in life. First is the importance of using of knowledge or wisdom to “navigate complex situations in a logical, informed, and calm manner”. Second is the use of “temperance”, to take control or moderate “unnecessary” nature and aspects of life. Third is “justice”, to treat others with fairness even when they have committed a mistake. Lastly is, to always have “courage”, not only to the most difficult situations but also to your day to day life for you to have more clarity and integrity.
The conclusion here is that philosophy will really help us figure out more ways to approach and take care of life. Taking care of it means also taking care of our ecology as we are the nature itself and there is no any excuse when it comes to our existence. From books to records, poems, novels, essays, movies and other forms of mental or intellectual expression, philosophies, especially that talks about the value, dignity, and hope for humanity, has been and it still one of the major driving forces of culture.
This is why throughout history, philosophers have been both celebrated and hated by the common herd yet unconsciously, majority of these masses are being conditioned and driven through philosophy: the philosophy of misinformed selfishness and misguided objectivism. All they can do is vote and then obey whatever it is that corporations want them to do. So like many other major thinkers of the past, from ancients to modern, people like Ayn Rand only attempted to contribute what they can to the supposed advancement of our civilization and collective physical health of our specie. Did she succeed? Did she fail? It doesn’t matter much. Like other not so known philosophers of the past, only few people know but their ideas have somehow entered into the realms of the society. And, their philosophies have been effective in inspiring and uplifting people.