You know that feeling you get when you walk from one room to another and then forget why you changed rooms in the first place? Lately I have had that same feeling about being on this planet. I know I came down here for something important, but I just can’t quite remember what it was.
For many years I assumed without question that the ultimate purpose of my life was to become a successful person, to get educated, raise a family, have a career, make a lot of money, eventually retire and then finally, die. That seemed like a good enough reason to be here on Earth.
But somewhere along the way, I began to question whether that was really the ultimate goal of being alive. I began to wonder if there was something more to me and to what was possible in this enterprise I called my life.
As I became more aware of the condition of our world, and the impact we humans are having on ourselves, each other and our beloved Earth, it began to appear strangely irresponsible to be striving only for personal individual success. Please don’t get me wrong; it’s important to create a viable existence, and to take care of your family and loved ones. It’s terrific to gain the respect and admiration of your peers, certainly. But to keep on winning a game you already won, to achieve and amass more wealth than you can ever spend, collect more things than you can ever use, seems, I don’t know, self indulgent.
To aspire just to be more successful, more comfortable, more insulated from the realities of the challenges we are facing as a species, is to aspire to live in the Penthouse in Hell, a nice section of a very bad town, a gated community in a place where nobody wants to live.
I often wonder about the logical conclusion of our current trajectory, about where this “game” is taking us. If present trends continue, vital resources will become even more scarce, and the gap between those of us who have way too much and those of us who don’t have nearly enough will get even wider, and the future will look something like this: tiny islands of opulence surrounded by oceans of misery, where the purpose of the military is to protect the haves from the have-nots. Not my idea of a better tomorrow. My idea is an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on this beloved planet.
The fact is, I don’t think we need more people to be even more “comfortable”. I think we need more people who are awake, and uncomfortable about the condition of our planetary home, and of our fellow humans. People for whom it is simply unacceptable to live in a world that works too well for a very few, and not well at all for the great many, and who are inspired to do something about it.
So no. We are not here to win the game. We are here to change the game.
Neal Rogin is a multi-award winning writer and filmmaker whose work has reached millions of people around the world. He is also the co-author of several critically acclaimed books, including The Trimtab Factor, with Harold Willens (Wm. Morrow & Company, New York), The Owner’s Manual for Your Life, and You Don’t Have to Rehearse to Be Yourself, both with Stewart Emery (Doubleday, New York). You can learn more about his work at The Awakening Universe.