Love as the highest good, meaning and ultimate goal of life ~ By Paul Ejime
If a survey were to be conducted on the highest good, meaning, the ultimate goal in life or what should matter most to an individual, the responses would be as varied and diverse as the status, orientation, belief system, background, profession, and state of mind of the respondents. Time and venue are also possible factors that could determine the answers. Even different religions do not agree on the ultimate goal of life.
With the Muslim Ramadan starting soon and during this special period of Easter, the most important spiritual Memoriam in the Christian calendar, I would like us to reflect on what should be the ultimate human pursuit, drawing from the global lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic of the past one year. Even without the pandemic, there is the need for an existential reality check. Still, the dramatic nature of the affliction and the fear factor it has engendered makes the interrogation all the more compelling.
If the Spanish virus of 1918 and similar deadly epidemics caught the world unprepared, what happened to our technically advanced and digitally-savvy nuclear world? What does it say of humanity that a tiny virus could demystify the legion of science Nobel Laureates, shut down the world economy, quarantine all and sundry, including the most influential leaders, kill millions of people, including the feared and revered, and even topple governments?
To millions of the dead and dying, family members who endure the trauma and agony of inability to say goodbyes to their loved ones, the courageous frontline health workers, who witness on a daily basis, the horror of hundreds of patients breathe their last, or the survivors who now live in fear of a virus that seems to defy understanding and control; what should matter most in human life?
From the emptiness and vanity that COVI-19 has made of life, should any rational being still put a high premium on earthly possessions? Are quarrels, divisions, hatred, conflicts, wars, ethnic, religious, class and racial segregations worth the troubles? And even while struggling to curb the virus; is the hoarding of vaccines or so-called vaccine nationalism desirable or the way to go?
True, the pandemic might have created its heroes by helping to unlock human empathy, kindness and compassion. But the continuation of human acrimonies, hatred and division, mainly out of greed, selfishness, means that humans are still far from what God, the Creator wants us to be! As mortals, perfection might be an ideal for, it is said that no human is perfect.
However, it is also beyond question, and whatever our belief system, that God did not create humans for themselves, but for the good/benefit of others. Take the simple illustration of a lit candle. It dispels darkness and shines for others to see. The same goes for the Sun. And what about a bird that sings or the lifetime work that we do? The caterpillar that morphs into a butterfly and pollinates the flower is it for self? Certainly not!
Therefore, my dear family and friends, I would like to use this special occasion to remind us that the acknowledgement and realisation that all we do and the life we live is for others. As such, we should change our orientation and attitude to life for the better.
There might be the temptation, out of human cravings to pursue, what we consider personal happiness as the ultimate goal in life – in My, I and Me alone approach. Or my family, my ethnic or religious group, my race, my profession, my club, class, social cycle, my country, my car, my house, etc., approach. But you will be amazed at the void we feel or more yearnings we crave as we ‘enjoy’ or ‘acquire’ these vanities! That void can only be filled and our enjoyment complete when we bring others into the equation. When and where we meet others’ needs, we are challenging God, and He will be persuaded to satisfy/meet our own needs.
And we can only do so, with unconditional love; when we empty, sacrifice and give of ourselves to others. Hence LOVE is the ‘Summum bonum,’ Latin for the highest good and the ultimate goal of human life.
Think about it! How much food, money, wealth, land, how much space in the tallest sky-scrapper or most luxurious Palatial Complex, how many vehicles, how much pleasure or what level of happiness is enough for a man or woman? And how much of these can one genuinely enjoy alone, all by themselves, without the service and support of others?
In many cases, all we own or crave for are for show-offs, ego or status symbols, which require validation by others. Every competitive game requires an umpire. You need others to judge/assess or compliment you that “your car or dress is beautiful” or that your house “is one in town.” Many of us only appreciate what we have when we compare them with others.
In other words, the constant factor in our lives is our relationship with “others,” which is determined by our relationship with God. God is the author of our lives, the Almighty. He is Love, and we must align ourselves with His plans as a summum bonum of humanity. It is only God, through love, who can imbue humanity with the Capacity, Courage, Faith, and Hope to overcome adversities such as the raging Covid-19!
Happy Easter and Wonderful Holidays to everyone!