It’s the only chance we’ve got.
I think this is actually where karma really kicks in. This notion of doing good things to get good reactions. I acknowledge an immense difficulty in defining the term ‘good’, which should probably be a personal journey, ongoing throughout life (though try not to default to torier as you get older, I suspect that’s a selfish journey).
But as I understand karma (I’ve discussed this before) it simply means the notion that doing ‘good’ in the world, leads to more good in the world.
Now, that may only be in the immediate vicinity, or it could potentially cause a change reaction, but in aggregate, more good, creates more good, surely.
If everyone tried their hardest to point their actions in the most positive directions possible, then the sum total of goodness in the world would increase, and surely the bell curve would be pushed into a positive direction. More of the best, less of the worst, the average being slightly better.
Of course, this is hippy, biased optimism.
In fact it is probably more reasonable to assume that everything is so complex that we cannot understand on any level the effect of any action we take. We live in a complex iterative system, each moment built on the moment before. There is an effectively infinite amount of information in each instant of the universe’s existence. The whole universe, in one static slice.
For all we know, every single piece of that psuedo-infinite slice of universe affects every other bit.
That’s a lot of information, that’s a lot of margin for error. That’s a lot of stuff we just don’t and can’t know about what’s going to happen next.
The weather after about four or five days becomes virtually incomputable, because the margins for error add up exponentially.
The universe is complicated. That’s all I’m saying.
So, we can’t know what effect our actions are going to have.
On the macro scale. But on the micro, we’re bright people, we have perception, we’ve lived long enough to guess what happens when, and we’ve got brains big enough to decide what we think is right.
So however complex it may get, we can try and make the small differences on the scale we’re looking at. The people around you, the ground you walk on. The things you see in front of you.
Look at them, they are your world.
And you can try your hardest to only have good consequences (for given values of the word good, once mroe). Or whatever consequences you want. It’s my hippyness that brings morality into this. (If all you want is riches and fatness, then you can fight for the same with the same rules. Look at the world around you, try and act in a way that will bring what you want about.)
It’s likely it won’t work, but if we don’t try, there’s nothing else to do.
A life without trying is going to be pretty boring.
Illustration by Emma.