In today’s society, a growing number of individuals are experiencing a sense of purposelessness. I made this observation not on rigorous scientific research, but from personal interactions I’ve had throughout my life. I believe there is an epidemic of individuals just aimlessly drifting through life. By that, I mean society lacks a meaningful direction to pursue. There are no wars, no enemies, and a severe lack of creativity in the world. Although there might be conflicts like the Ukraine War, we often overlook them, focusing instead on rising commodity prices at Walmart or the cost of gasoline. There is a notable lack of inspiration, and we are trapped in a cycle of recycling ideas rather than fostering new ones.
Looking to the Past
Society has no incentive to explore new frontiers or strive for personal improvement. Here are a few examples to support my argument that there is a lack of motivation in society. How many young college students have you met that have no idea what they’re doing with their life? How many people do you know who seem to be wasting their lives by merely watching tv or seeking temporary pleasures? I know I’ve met quite a few.
In films today, how many reboots, prequels, and sequels do you see at your nearest movie theater? While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it demonstrates our tendency to go back to those movies due to our love for the original. When we go into the movie theater, we hope to feel the same thrill as when we watched the original film. Our brains are stimulated, and we become complacent in this cycle, seeking quick fixes that provide fleeting rushes of dopamine rather than embracing new ideas. This fixation hinders our ability to embrace innovation and progress.
Instead of moving forward, we dwell on the problems in our lives without actively trying to solve them. While looking at our problems, we look back to the innocent and joyful memories from the past when life seemed simpler. Society isn’t looking forward as it doesn’t know what to look forward to. The past holds a mesmerizing allure, a sense of comfort, offering an escape from the everyday responsibilities we face.
The Quest for Purpose
There is a book called “The Greatest Thing in the World” by Henry Drummond, which, though a bit religious, provides valuable insights into the greatest thing in the world. The author explores the idea of purpose and raises a fundamental question: “Why do we want to live tomorrow?” This question invites us to introspect and identify the motivations that drive us forward. Before you keep reading, stop and ask yourself why you want to live tomorrow? Returning back to our topic, I ask another question, why should someone continue living if they only focus on the problems they face?
Drummond suggests the reason we want to live tomorrow lies in love— the love we receive and the love we give. This love can manifest in various forms, such as a passion for work, a connection with nature, familial bonds, or even the love we feel for our own pets. However, when the things and people we cherish disappear from our lives, we often find ourselves adrift, devoid of hope and purpose. The absence of love leaves us feeling lost, isolated, and in a state of emotional limbo. It is during these times that we must confront the emptiness within and seek ways to rekindle love and purpose.
Exploring a Scenario
Let’s apply these ideas to a scenario. Imagine you are a college student burdened with debt, working as a barista at Starbucks. The path ahead seems uncertain. You feel as if you are the coal miner mining for the company till the end of your days, only with coffee and milk in your hand. You seem to never be able to get a break. Opportunities related to your degree seem elusive, and rejection becomes a recurring theme. Now, let’s add more to the equation. Visualize your friends gradually distancing themselves from you due to their busy lives. Your parents no longer communicate with you due to family drama. You reside alone in a cramped studio, barely scraping by to pay rent. Adding to the pressure, you don’t know who you truly are. You are confused and uncomfortable about yourself. Your body feels unnatural to be in and you can’t look at yourself in the mirror. You feel like you’re wasting your life without a clear direction. Moreover, you lack any external support or anything pushing you forward. In this situation, why would you continue onward?
In this scenario, you find yourself alone, forgotten by others, abandoned by those who are supposed to love you, and unhappy with yourself. What purpose would you have?
With no purpose, you become empty and filled with negativity. What if that negativity transforms into hatred? Resentment fills you and all you can see is the hatred of the world you live in. What if you decided to direct that emotion against the system that has put you in your modern tomb? You intend to demonstrate that there are consequences for how society mistreated you. At this point, fueled solely by anger, you have nothing to lose. What do you think you would do, dear reader, in such a scenario? Would anyone be able to help you in this scenario?
Addressing the Epidemic
This is the epidemic I see growing in our young community. How do we address it? Will paying off college debt help? Maybe temporarily, but it does not fill the void of love in your life or fully provide genuine purpose. What if you message your friends again? I bet you’ll have some nice conversations, but their responsiveness may dwindle once again. You will be right back to where you started.
The change that is necessary begins with learning to love yourself. However, this is an arduous task, particularly if you are unsure where to start. It is a modern-day heroic journey to confront the dragon of emptiness that resides within. Where might one find this dragon? Therapy could potentially assist, but considering the burden of college debt, affording therapy may seem unattainable. While I understand that religion is not for everyone, it can provide an answer. If you do not believe, that is your choice, but what if it were true? What if there is a God who loves you and desires the best for you, but challenges you in life to foster personal growth? What if this God grants you purpose through devotion? You might need to recognize that both God and people genuinely love you. Now, love has entered your life.
Society’s loss of purpose is a pressing concern that demands careful attention and decisive action. By recognizing the importance of love, both in our connections with others, God, and within ourselves, we can begin to navigate through the overwhelming sense of purposelessness. Embracing innovation, fostering creativity, and forging meaningful connections are essential steps toward a society where purpose thrives. Only by addressing this epidemic can we hope to unlock the true potential of human existence and create a world that is brimming with meaning and fulfillment. A world that transcends the mere repetition of past works and instead embraces new ideas.