Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Boredom? Anxiety? Despair?

Veteran Jeffrey Adams and his service dog Sharif

How absurd men are! They never use the liberties they have, they demand those they do not have. -- Soren Kierkegaard
I asked a question yesterday, and unfortunately, I don't have the philosophical chops to answer it, or to even moderate a discussion of the topic.

Is there a common thread running through these news items?

* Dutch biker gangs travel to the Middle East to fight against ISIS
* Western Jihadi wannabes travel to the Middle East to join ISIS
* College children bust up a New Hampshire pumpkin fest
* Idiots rush to Ferguson hoping to start a revolution
* Adults fighting over sporting events, from Pee Wee League to NFL games
* The number of 'causes' people become passionate about continues to grow
* An explosion of offense-taking and demands for apology
* A continued increase in psychotropic drug use, including antidepressants

Could it be an existential crisis?  A search for meaning?

All I have are three quotations from proto-existentialist Soren Kierkegaard:

Boredom is the root of all evil - the despairing refusal to be oneself.

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.

The most common form of despair is not being who you are.

For many, perhaps life has no meaning outside of their immediate existence. What is the value of a life that revolves around itself and is lived only for itself?

I could be way off base, but people who study this stuff tell us that a common human desire is to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, to belong to a cause that transcends who we are.

Institutions are crumbling around us, as is our belief in them. Where does one turn?

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