Thursday, December 31, 2015


BACKGROUND NOTE FROM ME: In 2014 I took a very deep interest in philosophy and to expose my stunning ignorance of philosophical concepts I decided to deal with a nagging existential question of what does it matter what I do? I wrote this short polemical essay first in 2014 without looking up any philosophical concepts and refined it in 2015.

Beauty and Beast by Dorota Quiroz 

When I think about this very important question: "WHAT DOES IT MATTER WHAT I DO?" that keeps popping in my head every time I attempt to do something hard, important or when I want to invest effort in a worthy cause, I catch myself categorizing my self-doubting answers along those lines:


When I'm done with this whole life deal, will someone be there to tally my efforts, good deeds and struggles?  Can I get the praise and reward on my good doing while I'm still alive? Karma is not a very reliable source of getting back what I have put into spreading good deeds around me. Evil doers and Little Makers are most likely to be punished (but not always) during their lives but what about the good doers being rewarded for their good doing during present time? 

The question of doing good during your life time because otherwise you will be punished later in afterlife seems like a bribery. Or even expecting something good in return for doing good seems egotistical and self-indulgent. What if there is no reward or punishment like we were taught in our religious upbringing? After all, it's pretty sour deal if there are no consequences for our deeds in after life. What if there is just nothing and really only your consciousness is the only judge that will torture you during your lifetime but maybe not after death? 

Liar, Liar (after Andre Kertesz) by Dorota Quiroz
I guess it comes down to your spiritual beliefs and what system of judgement it supports. The need for a greater being or a power to be the Counter of all deeds is overwhelming… otherwise, in a way, all Good Doers are cheated out of their reward and Evil Makers are excused for their bad behavior. 

Yet, another point emerges in this debate… What we do is what we are. 

Let's assume there is no eye in the sky that is watching us... Do Good Doers have better lives versus Evil Doers without the third eye keeping the tab? I have known people who did bad things and the troubles and vices they have to deal with on a daily basis - a perpetual trail of unhappiness, tears, pain and chaos - was a permanent tattoo on their souls. In itself, such a living seems like an exhausting venture to hell on earth and constant dealing with after shocks of such disastrous existence, one would be actually happy to leave this place for whatever is next with a thought that it can't get any worse than what was experienced so far. 

Duality (after Andre Kertesz) by Dorota Quiroz
The existence of a Good Doer is more peaceful and joyous in itself because of the positive attributes of doing good onto others. I'm not saying that the lives of Good Doers don't have their own problems, but when one lives everyday with a mission to be good, helpful, productive and inspiring, such problems melt in the light of what one tries to accomplish. Is that the ultimate reward that we are looking for in our lifetime? Harmony, happiness and peace?


The awful thought that we and our dreams and achievements have no real influence on the larger world is very destructive. Such perspective is often experienced when one is exposed to large crowds or when one realizes through travel, reading and time how big the world is and how small we are in a proportion to it. Even our biggest achievements that we struggled to accomplish can be viewed as minuscule in the world record book of human invention and discoveries. The realization of our mediocrity against the measurement of human genius is a true motivation crusher and debilitating disease of blaming God on lack of talent as did Salieri in "Amadeus". 

Yet, are these individual endeavors of any lesser value because they don't measure up in the larger scale of human accomplishment? We are not all here to break records, win gold medals and invent cures for cancer (although it would be nice) and our individual strive for betterment of ourselves and the world around us is in a way an individual strive of making humanity and the world a better place. What we do and what we dream adds another pixel point to a large photograph of who we are as a human race. Bad deeds work the same way… from small lies and gossip, to theft, rape and murder - these all do matter in a greater human picture of what evil we are capable of, and making the portrait of us that much darker. 

The idea that it won't make any difference in a long run is a deceitful one. The affect of our good and bad deeds, can be short-lived or long termed and direct beneficiaries of either action are usually the people around that person followed by new generations. The butterfly effect concept applies not only to physics but also to everyday actions. 

Think about the message in a famous movie by Frank Capra "It's a wonderful life". It deals with an idea of the importance of our existence or nonexistence. It's a double edge sort again with good doers and evil doers, for we wish for the existence of the first and nonexistence of the second. At the same token the assumption that nothing good comes out of existence of a bad person is also fallible. Such existence might prompt the surge of good-doing, therefore appropriating the existence of evil. 


As I sit here and write this essay, I start to ask myself: "Why am I even bothering with writing this…. I'm not inventing anything new or coming up with original thought or idea,  I'm just wasting my time on writing something that no one will read, learn from or even appreciate it!" 

The answer is that I'm writing this because it's pleasurable to hear the sound of typing keys. I'm writing this because I need an excuse to get away from the mundane life of daily habits. I'm writing because it's a way to organize and clarify my fleeting thoughts, a way to leave something behind me.

It's only human to have some kind of input in a greater scheme of things, to leave some trace of one's existence behind for future generations without worrying if it will make any difference or not. The belief that we actually can do that today shows progress of humanity as a whole. Think about Middle Ages and a number of people who were able to read, write, and to produce knowledge, to affect anyone... Today, with the spread of learning, knowledge and technology more people can make a contribution to the larger domain of human intelligence.

What I write today might be lost in a digital world or be destroyed by fire or flood, if it's in a printed version, yet the possibility of what could happen to this little blurp is infinite and exciting. It could be the only document surviving from year 2015 as manuscripts found at Herculaneum after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and could be studied by famous scholars and stored under strict rules of preservation. And then of course, it could be another entry on a blog that no one reads and makes no sound when falling in the forest.

It seems that instead of answering the question, I found myself asking more questions... which I think is a point of searching for meaning. I find philosophy very helpful in understanding that I'm not the only one who faces such dilemma. It is supportive of notion that human beings, the rational animals that we are, will try to understand our purpose here in this world and use the knowledge we possess in determining where we are going and why...