On a near daily basis, we find ourselves confronted with news of violence, conflict, suffering and death on a global scale. We’ve seen bombings in Brussels, shootings in Paris, car bombs in Ankara and countless atrocities across the Middle East and Africa. I find myself only half-digesting the facts of one horrific act, when, before long, news emerges of some other tragic loss of life in another part of the world....and so, we are faced with the great unsaid question: ‘What will fix it?
The word ‘addict’ may seem extreme, but there is no denying it: I was completely dependent on sugar. I couldn’t go a single day without consuming the stuff. This was partly chemical...but also, as I gradually came to realise, something much deeper.
If we are interested in the truth, especially where we already have strong opinions, we have to be more skeptical than our feelings prompt us to be. But the fact is that it’s very difficult to question the things we take for granted...It's here that we are in danger of becoming another Donald Trump.
What is that phenomenon we call ‘beauty’ and why does it lie at the core of both collective civilisation and individual desire, even as we value it precisely for existing outside of practicality?
For some of us, success has become part of our identity. We have constructed a narrative about ourselves—which others have reinforced to us—that says: ‘You must be successful. You must be an achiever’. We feel a pressure to conform or live up to this identity...But if we don’t want to base our identity on what we do, what are the alternatives?
While Cobain and Augustine both end up famous and well-regarded in their respective fields of philosophical musing—one in music and the other in writing—somewhere along the way one experiences a tragic hopelessness leading to despair and suicide, while the other encounters life-changing hope and a new start. And what made the difference?
There’s almost nothing that can taint the acquisition of our romantic or erotic desires. But, whether we’re reading the latest erotic novel or entering the meat market of the Tinder-swiping generation, we know there must be something better and that this is not real love. We need to reclaim romance apart from our flippant desires and redefine our notion of love, which can and should remain our highest value.
Sometimes religious people have given answers to the ‘Why?’ (God is testing you, you’ve done something bad in a previous life, or you’ve done something bad in this life & this is Karma.) At best, these answers are unsatisfying and at worst, dangerous and highly offensive.
I didn’t choose most of the circumstances in which my life has been shaped: my parents, my culture, my influences. How can it be truly said that ‘I am the captain of my soul’ when, in reality, I didn’t even choose to get in this boat?