If you watch any number of nature documentaries — or, perhaps, simply observe the world around you — it becomes readily apparent that we exist in both a nurturing and an incredibly harsh environment. The earth is supportive of our being here (to a point), but is also a notoriously dangerous place. For example, living beings eat and are eaten by each other all the time, often under violent circumstances. The cycle of life is such that each species is impelled to preserve and perpetuate itself, inevitably at the expense of other living things. There is no more dramatic an example of this than with a species known as Homo sapiens (Latin for, believe it or not, “wise man” — but then…who named us?).
If you are among the planet’s bipeds, equipped with a largish brain and the ability to ponder the vicissitudes of daily existence, you have probably at some point (if not regularly) asked yourself a question that has confounded even the most brilliant minds of all time:
Why are we here?
Life, on this planet alone, and speaking just to the degree that we hominids have acquired knowledge about it, is incredibly and spectacularly diverse. A stunning array of creatures of all shapes, sizes, and dispositions cohabitates here — all part of a vast, intricate, and ever changing eco-system.
But if every life form that exists does so (at least, in part) in order to sustain those life forms that subsist off of it, while simultaneously trying to avoid becoming food itself, what is the point of any of it? Why is anything here at all? (Including us?)
Before I explore this Big Question any further (and so as not to disappoint the reader any more than absolutely necessary), I must provide a SPOILER ALERT:
I have no idea.
I am also inherently wary of anyone who claims, with absolute and unwavering certainty, to know the Answer.
That said, I don’t believe it best to flat-out ignore the question. Since we are here, it seems to me worth spending some time and energy periodically thinking about why this might be. Even if we never arrive at a completely satisfying, comprehensive, confidence-inducing Answer, keeping the Question alive at the very least keeps us engaged and curious, rather than resigned or mentally checked out.