To be at peace with oneself and God is a vague omni-virtue that seems to unite all beliefs. It's akin to the stoic temperament in practice, and is universally respected. From Job's trials to the stoic Meditations to the Buddhist response and expectations of suffering all the way to the Camusian absurdist defiance, to turn one's cheek and confront our powerlessness is ultimately something that religion, philosophy, and whatever else aims to do.
And I've been thinking about it a lot. I've been chasing peace with myself for along time, and in the past few years, I've had to make more peace with God. Not the Abrahamic God mind you, but 'God' as in the greater powers that be. You know... gravity, physics, people. Basically, anything outside of my control, and it's very easy to debate if I really have any control at all. It waxes and wanes like the tide, and just like the tide, 'it' cannot be stopped. Making peace with that is something I suspect I will have to work harder on as I grow older, and perhaps it will manifest into a respect and awe not unlike that of the Nietzchean child.
My teenage years have left me with hints of angst, despair, and defiance all wrapped into a tiny little bundle deeply planted in my heart, and while I have done a great job at molding it into something productive, it is there, and these topics come to my mind regularly. That is the making peace with myself part. To live with it, ironically, is to consider one's death and put an end as the ultimate objective in life. Some kind of fucked up uninformed death terror-management-theory sort of dream. But I do what I can, and I try not to rock the boat of it too much at any given point.
Recently I have come upon a new angle that is more concerning than I have voiced out loud.
What if my, our, premise is wrong? What if the numinous qualities of godhood are, like all magic of ages prior, is a curtain to be pulled back upon?
Before I write more about that, I'd like to point out that most of our morality and ethics is predicated on our question of: 'what is the meaning of life', and there are arguable proofs that there isn't a set of logical answers. Entire religions, cultures, even nations, have been built off of the response to that question, each more adamant than the last that they have an answer.
What if the correct answer is,
“We don't know...yet.”
Our insight into ourselves and nature has grown exponentially over the years. 200 years ago, nobody thought we could fly. 2000 years ago, nobody could have imagined that 'things that were' would ever change, and that the Roman empire would live forever. We're so used to small scale thinking that we never factor it into our current day thoughts and adjusting our heuristics just to keep doors open.
If you accept the prior paragraph, then how does it adjust your thinking? For me, it changes everything. Our directive is not to 'survive' or 'adapt' or any of those things in isolation. All our guns should point in a single direction of ensuring the next generation has just as much of a chance if not greater to find out the answer to the first, last, and only important question.
This messes all sorts of things up inside. Everything I wrote in the first paragraph is incorrect. There is no peace – there is only the war to fight for the future generations to get a chance at the last question.
To complicate things further still, we are on the verge of placing our hand on the curtain of the numinous. What if godhood being outside the reach of man isn't tautological? What if godhood is something to be achieved and not merely desired?
Think long term for a minute. Suppose we dedicated all of our worldly resources into the singular purpose of hacking our own biology, and then hacking our own minds with electronics.
How many years, in orders of magnitude, would you think it would take before we could upload ourselves into a machine and dispatch new bodies at will? It sounds ludicrous, but do you have any evidence whatsoever that it is impossible? There is overwhelming evidence that it IS possible, and our biggest obstacle is understanding how our consciousness work. Cartesian duality has been a mystery for centuries, but how long do you think it will be, IF we had the resources, to crack that code?
A lot of people have this allergic response to these ideas at this juncture. “You don't know if it's possible” or “that sounds imaginary”. But you literally have no evidence that it's impossible, but minor evidence that it is, and yet we default to a reclusive rejection of new possibilities. It's this lag in mentality that keeps fucking us, from tribalism, to human rights, to the general breakdown of progression. In other words, Clarke's first law is in full effect and rarely challenged, yet our cognitive dissonance prevents us from embracing its implications.
So then if we 1) accept that we don't know the answer to our existence and 2) the future is endless, our orientation should be clear:
“Move forward at all costs”
If this is the guiding mantra of all our individual actions, a very black and white and consistent system of morals and ethics arises. Death is nothing to be feared or shy away from, empathy and open mindedness is a hard requirement to maximize 'forward' movement, and people have intrinsic value by how much they can move the needle. Keep in mind “forward” is arbitrary – with n dimensions we can move in, that's n different ways we could move 'forward' in isolation. In other words, people should always 'adopt' the new and retreat back when it prevents a new 'new'.
It's not all ponies and rainbows. All sorts of bad shit could happen in the face of progress. Cat people, economic and social inequality (imagine that godhood with the machine cost you some amount that only a certain class of people could afford), mass depression and existential crises (how many people can actually move the needle on their own? Very few. Imagine living under the impression you are intrinsically worth nothing more than another helping hand and not hero protagonist of your own adventure).
But it solves, in the age of normalization of recidivism and nuclear weapons, our biggest problem. The massive conflicts we have when we try to answer the last question. Instead, we would orient ourselves with a 'meta rule' that basically says: 'go forth and seek out new rules that bring us closer to “the rule to rule them all”'. Our existential threats would be abated, and we would make use of natural selection at its highest form in both biology and memes, since every 'frontier' we search out will succeed or fail based off of the trajectory it moves us towards.
This all arose from the simple idea that sometimes, answers are undefined, as opposed to being a 'null' value (absent of a value), or even a real one. Rather than flee in the face of uncertainty and leap eagerly to the closest solution, we should acknowledge the unknown for what it is: merely not known...yet.
At the end of it, whether I am indeed at peace with myself or with God, or not, I have to imagine we have a future that we will attain at some point. If I am not, or cannot help there, then I must maintain my peace. If I can... then, like all of us, I have work to do.