Making history.-- Think of all the people who shall be forever remembered in history, their names seared into our collective consciousness by the fires of their greatness. Did they wake up one morning and consider all those who had come before them, too? Did they know that it would be their names, from among entire generations of their peers, that would be spoken in awe down through the ages? Is it they who chose their destiny with clear design, is it God, or is it us that select whom we shall revere?From my own Thoughts for the Thoughtful, aphorism #27.
I do fancy myself as a philosopher. I even quote myself in my own email sig line:
"To be a good philosopher, one has to be so creative as to see the world differently from everyone else, so arrogant as to presume that you above all else are correct, and so conceited that you think everybody else should know about it."~ I.D. McMahon, Thoughts for the Thoughtful, #14Are you familiar with 'unbearable fears'? They are those things that you fear that you drive yourself away from ever seeing, feeling, or experiencing. They drive you largely subconsciously, and you may never recall feeling those feelings for years simply because of your own efficacy at avoiding them. Perhaps they began in a bad experience as a child, and your adult self has subconsciously vowed to avoid them - with success.
I think, perhaps, I know at least one of my unbearable fears: mediocrity.
This is why Church History holds a strange allure on a personal level, while at the same time I despise the learning of vast tracts of information in order to pass as an academic pursuit.
I fear having my life lead to nothing. As a person who finds a lot of sense in existentialist philosophy while also believing in a Supreme Being (the Christian God) I feel like a man strung over a void - grasping on to the only single reference point that exists, however absolute.
If I live for God, I want to live well and achieve whatever I can with as much passion and purpose as possible, because the alternative would be admitting irrelevance, meaninglessness, oblivion, relativity, and hedonism.
C.S. Lewis, and many people like him, have achieved great things for the world. I mention him because he has my respect. Something in me wonders whether a person can elect themselves to be so great, or whether it is chance or something else outside their control. Perhaps it is nothing at all, and simply the fact that every generation must look on some as their best (because 'best' is only better than the person who wasn't).
In The Free Man's Worship, the ardently atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell said this:
Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins--all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built.Like something out of the Bible's Book of Ecclesiastes (my favourite book along with Psalms), Russell acknowledges that one day everything we do will grind to a halt, everyone we have loved and touched and blessed and laughed with will fade away, along with those that they in turn had also touched.
The deepest part of me yearns to escape this hopelessness, and I find this release in God.
So I serve with all of my heart, wondering whether it will be my name spoken across the dinner table in centuries to come. Perhaps it will be yours.