Philosophy Monday (9).

By Revival Ojedapo.

This is another installment of five “philosophical questions about human nature and the human condition”. They are taken from the 205 questions found on

41. What are you going to do with the one life you have?

We’ll be grateful for the things we are given, work for more, and make an impact. As Pablo Picasso puts it, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”. So, whatever you do with your life is contained in this transaction.

We all pursue a grand fulfilment, and regardless what it is, we’d be employing the gifts we discover. And there’s no grander fulfilment than helping the people around you with your gifts. Shannon Alder wrote: “carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you”. And this could only be achieved by giving your whole self unto the service of mankind.

42. Is it more important to help yourself, help your family, help your society, or help the world?

It will be difficult to place these options against one another, as they all overlap. For example, you are a part of your family, and your family is a part of the society, which itself is a part of the world. And we might conclude that you’ll do good to help the world. But, can you help the world without first helping yourself?

Instead of asking which is more important to help, it would be more appropriate to seek in what sequence they are to come.
Even if the odds are stacked one against another, you’ll still find that you can’t be satisfied by choosing to help one section over the other. Sometimes, you can only help the world better by helping yourself. Other times, you help yourself by helping the world.

43. What life-altering things should every human ideally get to experience at least once in their lives?

Depending on whom you ask, you could get any sort of reply. My search on the internet  brought me suggestions such as scuba diving, travelling the world, marriage, having a child, failure, heartbreak, and even near death experiences.

People who make these suggestions have had their lives changed by these experiences, and we can probably crave some of them (definitely not the near death experience—no matter how much it changes you).

I believe everyone should have the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ preached to them. By this, I do not mean a vague conversation with a missionary or evangelist. But rather, a substantial encounter with a person who’s life reflects the gospel.

As Pope Francis puts it: “one cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life”. This is an experience I believe everyone should have, and you can’t imagine the number of people who haven’t experienced it yet.

44. What is the most important goal every person should have?

Goals are mostly personal, and people usually set them according to personal purposes. But, that doesn’t mean there’s not one special goal that everyone should have. So, what exactly should be the central components of a goal?

According to Andrew Carnegie, “if you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes”. So, we ought to come up with a goal that makes us happy. And if it would make us happy, then it would engage our thoughts and energy and inspire hope in us. Such a goal would certainly be beneficial for the whole of mankind.

Even though we might not work on the goals together, the idea of it would unite us in ways we couldn’t possibly imagine. So, what should be the goal? Outside your immediate family, wouldn’t it be great to encourage someone to achieve something important to them?—to be the reason that someone gains fulfilment.

This could be just anything, and you would be helping them out in any way you’re capable. In itself, it would be a sizeable goal for everyone, as you’d be able to choose whomever you want to help. It could be a lifetime goal. Also, it could be an occasional objective.

45. Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?

Both conditions have their allure, but in order to fully enjoy them, the conditions will have to be flexible. On the one hand, you may be a tycoon in a line of business that’s not saturated. If this line of business doesn’t expand, you’ll probably begin to feel unfulfilled. If you are a big fish in a line of work that’s not yet saturated, your aim would be to expand the pond. And falling short of this, one would be left unsatisfied. Even when you have people looking up to you for sustenance, the goal will be to expand your sphere of influence.

There’s another way to look at it though. Some might argue that they prefer establishing themselves in a small niche—settle in a small town and just live a simple life. But then, you’d either be a small fish in the small town or be a big fish in the small town. If you’re in the latter category, then you’ll definitely aspire that the town enjoy some sort of expansion.

The king of a small town may not have geographical expansion in his agenda, but he would be responsible for an image projection of his town. And that’s expansion.
On the other hand, if you find yourself in an already saturated environment, you’ll be eager to rise beyond your lowly level. You’ll have plenty room for growth, of course. And when you eventually begin to grow, you’ll become a bigger fish in the big pond.

A progressive ambition would ultimately rest on our ability to use our position to influence your environment and vice versa.


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