What is the Meaning of Life?
Fr. Shay Cullen
3 April 2020
What a challenging world we live in. Half the people on the planet are cowering inside their homes and shelters. Many are in fear of Coronavirus, too nervous to go out. The poor are hungry, millions are unemployed, the economy is in free fall and people are worried and asking when it will all end. That no one knows. The challenge is for us to embrace the power of goodness, to build up our strength, to be resilient, compassionate, just, caring, sharing and helping each other and strangers.
The threat to shoot to kill the protesting hungry people in Tondo, Manila is totally unjust and would be seen as a crime against humanity. Their need is for food and help to live, not bullets and death. There has been more than 200 billion pesos (US $4 billion) set aside for the alleviation of hunger. It must be shared.
Children and adults are locked in overcrowded sub-human prisons around the world all in danger of mass death from the virus. In the Philippines, hundreds of children 13 years and older suffer abuse and torture in jails. They must be released. Many adult prisoners should be released, too, before the guards have to carry out thousands of infected corpses including some of their own.
Brave doctors and health workers are risking their lives every hour to help save others. Many doctors and nurses have died. They have limited protective garb and know the danger yet they courageously worked on, heroes all for the sake of humanity.
Many died because the government health systems around the world are unprepared. Some leaders are too dumb, ignorant or corrupt to see and understand the danger and prepare a stockpile of protective gear. The simple truth is that this virus cannot be easily stopped, there is no cure and it kills.
There are too few available life-saving respirators and doctors have to make the agonizing heart-breaking decisions whom to save. Will it be the 85-year old or the 23-year old younger patient? One older Catholic priest in Italy willingly gave his respirator to a younger person and the priest died. It was a heroic act of self-sacrifice, may his spirt it live on.
This is a virus that is a monster from hell and all the ingenuity and science of humankind is almost defeated. Everyone must stay as isolated as possible to defeat Coronavirus. Although it is not a living organism but a protein, it needs a human host to replicate itself.
The experts tell us that the virus needs to attach itself to our cells and use the RNA there to pass information about itself to the new round of viruses that are being cloned and multiplying in the human body. The virus is evolving as if it were alive, and likely causes the infected person to cough or sneeze so it can transfer itself to another person. It is clever for a non-living, non-thinking protein. It seems to be similar but smarter than some non-thinking billionaire politicians whom we hope will not replicate themselves.
There is no known reason or purpose why it exists. Why does anything or anybody exist in the first place? Is there any purpose to it or life itself or none at all? Some say there is no purpose, we just are. Yet we and all life exist on a tiny speck of a planet in a vast universe among millions of galaxies. The universe, scientists tell us, came into existence from a big bang, an explosion of energy apparently from nothing but at that infinitesimal millionth of a second all material matter came into existence. That’s some amazing true story. And we came from that. The universe of which we are an intimate part of (although insignificant) is vast, endless, existing for no known reason. Does there have to be a reason at all and can something come from nothing is the question.
What is human reason anyway, did it evolve as the ability of the human species to be self-ware, to think and to then know that we exist? As the philosopher Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” But what if we don’t think, don’t converse with ourselves, what then is the purpose of existing?
In a less philosophical frame of mind, we may recall Coronavirus came from some people eating wild animals, like bats, and other exotic wild creatures in a market in Wuhan. Well, the Chinese government has to stop all that illegal trade in animal parts that is destroying the animal kingdom and human lives. Some authorities there are accused of trafficking in human body parts, too. They execute prisoners without just trials to harvest their body parts for medical operations.
Coronavirus is a non-living protein yet a seemingly almighty invisible force that has brought every nation to its knees, making millions sick and causing death. Is there no positive virus or protein that can lift up the human species and improve its value of life with strong moral values and principles?
Some believe that there is a spiritual power that can motivate people to choose the good, live a moral life, love truth, honesty and justice and to care for strangers in need and treat them as friends. It is the gift of belief in a supreme intelligent being that is the ultimate cause of the the universe and the big bang and humans. To be in close union with this Supreme Being, the universal force of goodness and love is happiness. That gives purpose of all life, especially human life.
In these days of great challenge and dramatic life changing events, we can survive the Coronavirus and be happier if that universal force of goodness and love is with us and we are with the force. That will be enough for anyone of us to self-sacrifice and give our respirator to someone younger than us.