Monday, August 9, 2010

Thank you, that means so much!

I shop for people year round. Work permits lots of opportunities to travel and I'm always keeping my eyes open when I'm in new places to find gifts to celebrate those special times in the lives of people I care about. Sometimes a bit of local art, the perfect book, or for that person whose emails have been filled with computer-related complaints, a RAM upgrade.

Whatever the gift, it almost always results in some variant of the phrase "it means so much". Music to the ears for those of us whose gift planning goes beyond a trip to Costco to pick whatever is cheap and available.

But it raises an interesting point: neither the art, the book nor the RAM were produced with the intention of being a gift from my friends or family, I didn't participate in their creation-how can they"mean" something to the recipient?

That's the secret believers and (some) philosophers don't want us to grasp-objects, actions, events, etc. can all be invested or infused with meaning after the fact. And for we humans, that meaning is just as "real" as any claimed "objective" or "ultimate" meaning that others attempt to assert on the basis of their belief system.

Believers who will assert repeatedly that "it's only the meaning that God gives that counts" don't seem to take the logical step of either a) claiming that the specific flowers in the bouquet they bring home were chosen by god from the dawn of time to celebrate that one particular event (raising the question as to why god couldn't have taken a bit of his flower choosing time to cure cancer or plant some more food for the starving) or b) acknowledge that the flowers have no "real" meaning and show up without them (see related material under "job had it easy").

Believers through their daily lives acknowledge that we finite, mortal humans can invest meaning in objects and actions.Let them try to explain the inconsistency of also claiming absolute, objective meaning for things. We nontheists can enjoy the seemingly magical act of transforming words, deeds and objects into conduits of meaning, simply through our own choice to invest them with meaning-meaning that can support our ethics, charitable inclinations, efforts to achieve justice and simply showing others that we care.

No comments:

Post a Comment