What's important? What do real people spend most of their time and effort on? What are the critical categories of our lives? Consider:
- money — in the generalized sense of goods, things (tangible and intangible) that can be bought and sold. Some instances of such "stuff" that account for most of the worldwide Gross Human Product are:
- food: not a big budget item — nowadays, for most of us, in the wealthier parts of the globe — but getting enough to eat has been the major preoccupation of people for eons, and remains so in many places
- shelter: ranging from mere survival-necessary protection against the elements, to comfort and security
- knowledge: science & engineering of all sorts ... problem-solving know-how inherited and shared among people, including language itself ... structured education and independent learning — the wellsprings of modern society's productivity
- entertainment & æsthetics: literature, popular music, sports, fine arts, etc. ... the entire spectrum from mindless time-wasting to the most profound products of the mind
- matter & energy: natural resources including land itself ... materials raw and processed ... plus the transformational forces needed to work our wills on substances
- transportation & communication: moving people and things from where they are to where they need to be ... likewise with voices, pictures, and other data
- information storage & processing: in modern times, high-speed computing systems ... in centuries past, media such as clay tablets for inventories plus human scribes to tally the numbers and balance the books
- health: the arts of medicine applied to keep body and mind in good working order ... which consume an ever-increasing fraction of social production, often spent in a vain effort to cheat death during the final months of a person's existence ... but which also have saved and lengthened and improved countless lives
- peace: personal safety against attack by others ... prevention of assault, rape, murder, thievery, fraud, etc. ... and punishment (or other deterrence) of offenders, all aiming to help "keep the peace"
- mechanism — how major human goals (such as those catalogued above) are acquired or achieved:
- work: individual and group labor, both physical and intellectual
- savings: the accumulated results of work, when not all that has been produced is immediately consumed
- institutions & facilities: schools of learning, hospitals, libraries, factories, stores, roads, telecommunications networks, etc.
- governments: organizations charged with making the rules and implementing them ... redistributors of resources ... peacekeeping (or warmaking) outfits such as police, courts, and national defense forces ... enforcers of the Social Contract
- meaning — things that shine their light on all other human endeavors ... and that people look forward to with anticipation in youth, or look back upon fondly in old age
- family: as animals we instinctively love and value our close kin, perhaps to an irrational degree (though evolutionary theory suggests some genetic reasons) ... and often we form new bonds through marriage and adoption
- friends: our intellectual family — comrades, colleagues, and others with whom we have shared experiences or common interests
- freedom: liberty ... the right to choose, wisely or otherwise ... and to take responsibility for our actions
- faith & philosophy: religious and secular beliefs concerning issues of deepest concern ... conceptions of good & evil, right & wrong, origins & destinies ... the ultimate foundations of existence
That's what we care about — what we strive to achieve with our lives.
Thursday, February 15, 2001 at 07:44:38 (EST) = 2001-02-15