Meaning or Worth of Human Life

Meaning or Worth of Human Life

Glancing through Bertrand Russell’s autobiography I noticed Will Durant’s letter to him written in 1931. In it he asked why after so many efforts by dozens of scholars over the centuries no one has been able convincingly to say what is the meaning of human life and what is its worth. He felt that too much thought and growth of knowledge at lightening speed have destroyed the value and significance of life.

Yet, I am sure everyone would agree that these questions are fundamental and, also, that a good answer to them can be our pole star at this troubled time. In my view a clear simple answer is possible. Let me try.

All of us are born into a garden full of trees, bushes, grass, and micro plants. All are beautiful in their own way. Some bear fragrant flowers and others delicious fruits full of nutrition to satisfy the hunger of all animals. Clean air and sweet water are provided all over the land. Millions of animal species inhabit this garden and they all play their roles. All are needed for together they form a community of life. The dung beetle is needed, and so are earthworms, mice, cats, elephants and of course us humans. Extinction of any one of them leaves a dent in the life of the community.

So we humans are needed in the community of life, and that to my mind is meaning enough in our being here. Of course we need to play our role diligently and in the right spirit.

We humans are a proud race and we unabashedly call ourselves sapiens-sapiens even when we can easily imagine that other animals and plants think differently.

Let us for now take ourselves on our own word and believe that we are in truth wise. Then it becomes imperative that we act wisely. And that means we care lovingly for all that the creator has provided. Also as members of the community of life we must be good, kind and just. Being wiser requires that we behave in an exemplary manner and be a good role model. If we remember and act wisely our worth in the eyes of the whole community will rise.

So our being has meaning enough for we are needed in the community of life to make it complete. And by living wisely we give ourselves a worth that can soar depending on the quality of our actions. This of course requires that our actions, and not just our thoughts be right.

In fact too much thought, far too many words, and lack of hands down participation in the actual day-to-day activity of the community makes us worthless. It also leads us to wrong living and destructive actions to both life and the garden in which it thrives.

Partap Aggarwal

July 16, 2011