One of the problems with obsessing about politics and society as much as I do is that it means I am constantly thinking about life in an abstract sense. I often ponder about other people’s lives, imagining what it is that makes others happy, fantasizing of the ways that we can eliminate sources of pain and suffering, creating opportunities for people to fulfill their dreams and capture their desires.
When I do this, I try very hard to remove my concept of fulfillment from the equation. I don’t want to be hegemonic, to prescribe my preferences to others, to assume that what satisfies me is at all sufficient for anyone else. I operate on the premise that my life, as I experience it, is not what most people want. Yet I have to recognize that it is dishonest to think that I can be political without being prescriptive. If I have an opinion about public policy, that is a moral stance about what the best way of life is, of what other people’s lives ought to look like.
Yet, these stances do not construct any tangible notion of a life well-lived. My generation has few role models, hardly anyone that we can all point to and say “they did it right, that is the way it should be done”. Is that a sign of enlightenment, that we recognize there is no one path that works for everyone? Or is it a sign of being lost, that we find ourselves without specific or concrete direction?
To many of us, it sounds great that we should each search and discover our own purpose in life. But I find it to be a great irony that we are so strongly driven by individualist ideas of self-determination, of shedding dogma and doctrine, yet we are so eager for a more unified and collectivist society.