A Confession, part 8
At the time I could not say clearly what was wrong with my thinking, but it seemed that my thinking was both clear and not clear at the same time. I was agreeing with what some great thinkers of the past had said, and to my mind I was right in saying that life had no meaning. But if I was so confident that I was right, then I should have killed myself; but I did not. A part of me could not act in agreement with what my mind had said was the smart way to act. A force was fighting to keep me alive. And it was this force that pushed me into seeing that I and a few hundred other people like me were not the whole world.
Looking at the narrow circle of my equals I had found only four ways of handling the question about the meaning of life. But I was acting like that narrow circle of rich, educated people were the whole world, and I was acting like the millions of other people in the world were nothing more than animals.
It is strange to think that I could have believed my life and Solomon's and Schopenhauer's were the only real lives, and the lives of everyone else were not important; but that is what I had been thinking. We rich, educated people will not say it in so many words, but that is how we act toward those who are not as educated or as rich as we are, in most other things too. Thanks either to the strange love I have for working people or thanks to my knowing that I did not understand life, I turned to these poor people for an answer. I started to see that they were not as stupid as we educated people had believed, and I came to understand that the place to look for the meaning of life is not in people who have lost it (as we have), but in people who show by their lives, day after day, that they have found some good reason for living. These millions of poor working people did not, on the whole, fit into any of the four groups that I had listed from what I knew of my rich, educated friends. Most of them were smart enough to know, and to be able to say very clearly, that death is coming. They did not spend their life doing only what made them feel good; because, for one thing, they were not rich enough to be able to do that even if they had wanted to. And they would not think of taking their own life.
So what was their reason for living? It did not come from the reasoning that I and my friends had used. It came from a reasoning that needed no reason. It was faith, the very thing I had turned away from in the past. It was God… the making of the world in six days… devils and angels… and all that I had left behind because I was too smart for it.
I now had a new problem. My reason said that I must find a meaning for life; but the only way I could find a meaning for life was to put to one side my reason and take up faith. How could I do that?
Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
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