In our culture/society today, out of a stance of preservation it is typical for people to view their lives, those within their lives, and events as "not-a-big-deal." I am not advocating that every instance of our lives should promote constant euphoria or despair, however the attitude of complacency is merely a small step away from off of the cliff plunging into existentialism which should be avoided.
The attitude of growing individuals is becoming more and more hard. Sex can be seen from social media and Hollywood as an adult sport/activity for the body rather than the giving of the heart. Divorce is a common concept as promises "until death do we part" becomes just cute lyrics rather than meaningful vows. Women having children are labeled under disability according to human resources rather than helping create new human beings. The majority of friends are great for sharing a beer or chug of wine, but if you're drunk they do not guide you home (hence most college freshmen scenerios). A job is "just a job". If you die, it is more common to post condolences on your facebook feed than attend the actual funeral or burial site. No, this isn't everyone and yes this is a grim look at society, however my point isn't to rant but rather to point out that in our society dying trees are more meaningful than dying people. Things which should have meaning apparently do not in the world's eye and the majority of things seem to bear little meaning unless its selfishly rooted.
When our society advocates that human life and what it entails is meaningless, it is promoting a form of existentialism (philosophy view that life is meaningless and absurd). Although the possibility that life is meaningless could be true, for the sake of society it is a dreadful philosophy to adopt as it mocks humanity in its entirety.
One should research artists Allora and Calzadilla where they display existentialism through a visual medium becoming a relevant and simple depiction of the philosophically abstract. The artists mock protests, military, liberation, and freedom saying that it is all meaningless. Though their art is legal and an expression of philosophy, it is frightening how it mocks human beings' liberty, freedom of speech, and includes animal cruelty. If one takes this belief of existentialism to heart by accepting it in its entirety they must also say that it is meaningless if a tidal wave demolishes a whole nation, if a tyrant executes millions, or if children starve to death. Is this a path we as society want to journey towards? By being callous in society we're taking the first steps down this road without looking at the final destination.
To deny that anyone or anything has any meaning, is one thing (in which I believe that selfish people, psychopaths, and tyrants can find easy to accept). However, one must also accept that they themselves, all their opinions, all their efforts, dreams, sorrows, and dreads are also meaningless. So, what does it mean anything to believe that nothing has any meaning? Ironically, the belief itself has to be meaningless for it to be meaningful for those who truly believe in the value of meaninglessness.
Sure, existentialism is probably extremely useful for those who are suffering as it can offer temporary alleviation or be used as a self preservation (ex. “It does not matter that I’m getting beat up for the third time in a row today, it does not mean anything”). It could be a very useful psychological form in which one can escape their tragedies, but it is only one level short from suicide and it encourages others to believe so too.
Looking at Allora and Calzadilla's art alone, how did their art impact those around them? How would the people in South America feel knowing that an artist is mocking their unfortunate circumstances displaying it as meaningless through their art? How would the people in these projects feel knowing that an artist is mocking those who are trying to help them while they are in distress? Is it meaningless to be kind to others? Is it meaningless to help others? Is it meaningless to strive for excellence? Is it meaningless to stop what is evil and try to contribute to what is good?
Accepting meaningless is parallel to death. When a farmer dies their farm goes into entropy where it resorts back into a forest. If a city were to be eliminated, the buildings would fall apart and nature would overtake it. If one does not take care of a garden, it ceases to be one. If we see this in nature, how much more is it within us as humans? Neglect is a form of abuse. If we cease to be kind to our family and friends stating that we or they are meaningless, how does that affect them and ourselves? If we cease to eat, drink, and care for ourselves…we die.
If we accept existentialism, we must accept it in its entirety. It says that your existence is completely irrelevant and so is mine. We’re pretty much both already dead. There is no right or wrong (except for the fact that there is no right or wrong). It is a paradox which may temporarily alleviate in the midst of suffering, but otherwise does more harm than good. This shouldn’t be something which is lauded, it should be seen as a death-carrying virus which should be avoided even its minor forms.
One shouldn't live as though they are living alone, because that’s never true. Whether what we think, say, or do has meaning or not in the long run, it surely has meaning in the present and in the shorter long run even if all you do is eat a bowl of cereal each day (someone had to create the cereal, milk, bowl, spoon, transport it, create the vehicle for transportation; that's a lot of people involved for one simple task).
Perhaps we may just be living dust, but for a small molecule of time it carries a world of meaning for others if not for ourselves. (Hence, Horton Hears a Who...Be a Horton.) Let's not undervalue the meaningfulness in our lives and the lives of others.