How to Live

I’ve been thinking lately about the various ways different peoples at different times have thought about living life.

There are, of course, those who lean toward religion, who believe following the dictates of their particular faith and avoiding sinful ways will lead to the preferred after-life results. Then, there are those level headed logicians who advocate maintaining an even keel, all things in moderation and embracing fate as fairly inevitable. Amor Fati they call it: Love of Fate, which I guess means wishing for things to happen exactly the way they do. I suppose for the more pessimistic among these folks, what one fears most will probably happen so you might as well get used to the idea. These moderate Stoic thinkers advocate practicing a thought experiment: imagine this is the last day of your life, that this instant is your last one and then ask yourself this question: Am I living a good life?

Well, all this is well and good I suppose but I would think certain situations would make practicing these philosophic poses difficult at the very least. For instance, if you were a peasant living in France in the 16th century your very survival might depend on your religious affiliation.  Declaring yourself Catholic or protestant at any given time might be pretty dangerous and forget altogether about claiming agnosticism.  Or, if you were an infantryman during World War II you probably would have a hard time thinking about anything other than whether or not you were going to get shot or blown up. Your demons, in both cases, would be very real and not easily dismissed by belief in a promised after-life or pacified by thought experiments.

Well, not being in any sort of threatening or seriously uncertain situation myself (other than possibly being left out in the rain) I guess I can contemplate ‘Best Living’ if I so choose which, I guess, is, in itself, a pretty satisfying way to live.

Horrors of War

Horrors of War

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