The Quest for Meaning - Part 2
Just what is the cavernous void that so many of us feel in our souls? As a society, the West has lost its way; the path to a good life is paved with purpose, not self-fulfillment.
“If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
Meaning, in its many forms, is the primary driving force behind human action. The pursuit of meaning is what sustains us, and the fear that there is no meaning is what haunts us. As Nietzsche said, “if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you”. The underlying truth of this statement is obvious. A life without meaning is an abyss and “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. Believing life is meaningless will result in a meaningless life. Growth requires a goal, but there is no reason to have any sort of goal if you conclude that everything is ultimately without purpose.
Herein lies the Achilles heel of the modern progressive movement. There is no clear goal or stated purpose. It is a religion without a heaven that condemns Western civilization as a hell governed by devils. This story of Western evil has become the predominant one in Canada and has deeply infiltrated academia and wider pop culture in the United States. This new religion contains most of the more nefarious features that religions before it have embraced. The insistence on guilt, a demand for confession, and the harassment and eventual eradication of heretics wherever they can be found.
The problem with this new belief system is that it offers no redemption. There is no forgiveness. Once you have been labelled as a heretic, whether your heretical beliefs were displayed yesterday or twenty year ago, you must be cancelled and shunned by polite society. This fills the void of meaning many people feel inherently. It gives them a simple framework of good and evil with which to navigate the world and a morality based on the syllogism that victims are righteous and the powerful are the embodiment of evil. All that is left is the bitter vengeance of the oppressed against the oppressor. The victim ultimately becomes the victimizer in the pursuit of “justice”.
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”
Simple stories have always attracted the broad mass of humanity (whether intellectual or practical) because they give a means of structuring reality. While many modern intellectuals on the right wing of the political spectrum (they often refer to themselves as classical liberals) are aghast at the current zeitgeist; they are not providing anything nearly as compelling as what the left has constructed over the last fifty years. Moderates across the Western World seem to be in retreat while the extremes of the political spectrum grow in power and influence. Yeats predicted this decade ago, “things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”.
The issue is that the “centre” has no story at all currently. There is no societal consensus on what a good life looks like or what overarching goal we should be pursuing as a society. We have reduced meaning to group identification and morality to the sacredness of victimhood. What progress and innovation is possible in such a zeitgeist? If the highest form of societal value is placed on the victim, where will our heroes come from? We are being consumed by a story that provides us with no real vision of the future. It is clear that we desperately need a better Canadian Story.