Human Responsibility (My Story)

 

My greatest passion is learning how to understand and appreciate our existence. I enjoy exploring different academic disciplines and conversing with friends and family. My ideas are ever changing; existence as I know it will never be defined.

I guarantee this is not the end.

 

One of the greatest pursuits of mankind is determining our responsibility to ourselves, other people, and the world. If we are truly governed by a higher power that holds our strings, these responsibilities are presented to us. However, if we are truly independent of a metaphysical influence, we create our own responsibilities and take over God’s role. If we are truly Gods of this existence, this requires great attention and dedication solely within our own human capabilities.

I have always been extremely curious about how life works. As a kindergartener, it struck me as an implausible concept that God had never been born. At that age, it was absolutely true that birth and death were a part of existence; anything separate from this rule was unimaginable.

Around eight, nine, or ten years old, I began experiencing desires, expectations, ideas, and judgments influenced by my society. Obsession over how to get a boy to like me, stylish clothing, makeup, the spark of romance, and getting bullied established an undetectable barrier between my unadulterated being and my manmade shell. In sixth grade, my best friend dressed in all black and sculpted her hair in unnatural ways with styling product. I attempted to mimic her, although my personality was much lighter and easygoing. Seventh grade introduced R&B and music videos, along with hats worn sideways, trendy shoes, and designer shirts. By high school, I adopted my parents’ religious views and went to church to praise the only religious figure I knew — Jesus Christ.

At the age of sixteen, when I fell for an atheist, my entire fabricated world began to crumble. His cynicism bombarded me with religious insecurities that caused my forgotten childhood curiosity to creep up from the shadows. This snowballed into a world of vulnerability and self-consciousness. Then, the worst parts of me budded their heads out of the ground: Was who I claimed to be only a manifestation of society’s influence? Fear and uncertainty enveloped my mind. These fears, a long with cares and concerns of both my manmade shell and my true self, began to battle. In the end, my most sincere identity rose from the ashes.

I gave up my Christian faith; to abandon superiority over the world was the most enriching relief. Instead of standing upon the soil, I was the soil. Instead of conquering the sky, my presence became a friend to its existence. To lay on the earth and feel the grass, or enjoy fruit and trees and flowers, or recognize and respect their being, opened my heart to viewing every form of life as equal to my own. My body was flesh and blood, bone and muscle, complete and utter life, like that of the stars.

In some amount of time that evades me, my heart began to beat for two people. My soul mate stepped into my life, and with passion and devotion to knowledge, he reminded me of my separation from nature. When I lay upon the earth, the grass did not acknowledge me. Neither did fruit, trees, or flowers. My endearing admiration for this man was only possible due to my consciousness identifying itself and thus allowing me to identify him. Yes, I was limited by this consciousness in ways, but also special because of it. In the late nights of summer or mornings when we awoke to the rain outside, our conversations proved an extraordinary truth: We could speculate, create purpose, and problem-solve. Unlike the ant, the bird, or the dolphin, we were aware of ourselves, of others, and of the world. Our decisions directly and indirectly affected life and every conscious decision from others directly and indirectly affected us.

In a sense, I became enlightened.

Despite this understanding, we still felt lost. To have come out of the darkness with a grasp on our true-selves did not offer absolute answers. Our origins, our true purpose, or lack thereof, was still a mystery. Was there a higher-being — a creator — that inspired or governed our existence? To what degree were his expectations of us? Or, were we the product of a random universe; the result of biological evolution? Without a god, to what degree should we hold expectations of ourselves?

With an involved god, one would assume morality was a direct likeness of his character. We are limited by what is endowed in us from him.

With a strictly observing God, perhaps humans create morality through noticing patterns, proposing a purpose, and constructing guidelines for a well-lived life — yet, this morality is still judged by god’s standards.

What is even more fascinating, yet terrifying, is if the universe is a product of random chaos without a metaphysical inspiration for, or cause of, our morality. If this is indeed true, then we are, in a cosmic sense, merely inhabitants. However, on a planetary scale, we are creators. Our consciousness is the sole instrument for purpose. When a spectrum of light forms in the sky, we call it a “rainbow” and propose a purpose. When we see a mass of chemicals and water in the atmosphere, we call it a “cloud” and we see shapes, beauty, or perhaps an omen for harder times yet to come. We care for our loved ones, pet or human, and when they die, we mourn the loss of their life. With this knowledge of death, we hope it comes for us many years in the future.

We go as far as idolizing gods not only because we crave a purpose in life, but also because we never want to completely cease to exist forever.

If we are truly alone in the universe, we are the protectors of this world. Sure, without us, the earth would be without our pollution and the constant depletion of land and water, but life would also be without compassion, watchful direction, and cognitive reason. It is irresponsible to ignore or demean the consequences of our decisions because the fate of this world has more to do with us than we ever imagined. The world is full of our purpose, and will burn from the depths of our arrogance or thrive from our dedication. We cannot be self-absorbed; we must acknowledge our bodies as composed of the same material as the universe, only that our consciousness bestows great responsibility. To have a relationship with life, instead of a dictatorship, reveals our truest nature as guardians. Perhaps then, when we fully acknowledge our potential and feel peace from a sunset, or bliss on a countryside hill, we will know that we’re seeing aspects of ourselves.

Like loving or fearing a god in the heavens, we love and fear the magnificence within our own minds.

When we do not hinder or destroy life, but prolong its well-being and value, we can heal the world. When we clear our existence of the empty desires and selfish fixations that constitute our manmade shell — when we realize the power of our own potential within our most inner being — we can fully apply the necessary attention and dedication needed to create a world full of meaning and purpose.

I believe in people.

 

Student essays are stored at each department or sometimes departmental library of the University in which it was submitted. No part of this text may be reproduced in any form without written permission from Jennifer M. Hartsock. Every effort has been made to ensure that credits accurately comply with information supplied.

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2 thoughts on “Human Responsibility (My Story)

  1. You’ve really done it this time. Your stream of consciousness here is both revealing and obscuring of your inner life, and as one of your many faithful readers, I must report astonishment! What a panorama of thought you have shared in this post!

    In only a little over 1300 words, you have literally taken on the whole universe! To say that it is ambitious and courageous to do so is an understatement.

    The scope of these matters is well beyond a single blog post, but you have started the conversation in numerous directions with aplomb and bluster! What a gal!

    We all have a degree of responsibility to each other, to ourselves, and to our planet, and although many people go through their daily routines without consideration of these responsibilities, you clearly have given them serious thought. You are to be commended for your honesty and humility in expressing both your efforts and your shortcomings. No one is perfect, but you are certainly leaning in that direction.

    The single-most important sentence among the many important sentences you included in this posting, in my view, is this one:

    “Our consciousness is the sole instrument for creating purpose.”

    It is only through our awareness of existing as an entity IN the universe, and our subjective “experience” of BEING in a universe, that we can truly be said to even have a chance to discover what might constitute a purpose FOR our existence.

    Without consciousness, which also mysteriously includes the subjective experiential awareness of “possessing” consciousness, we would still be living in caves, huddling in fear of predators. Without millions of years of evolution within which our species was able to flourish and expand our understanding and our range of experience, none of us would be here reflecting on these profound issues as you have so astutely observed.

    We are not alone in this universe, Jenn, and our existence is not just some cosmic fluke of random creation in an endlessly repeating pattern of universal expansion and contraction. The mystery is not in the universe itself. It is in each of us, as consciously aware creatures who inhabit the universe, and who are made of the same stuff as everything else in the universe.

    The journey has only begun, and you are one of my favorite inhabitants of this universe. We need to take it step-by-step–one foot in front of the other.

    There is so much more to come. Warm regards…….John H.

  2. John, my greatest thanks for reading this piece and sharing such wonderful comments on my work, and on my journey. I wish I could write an equally eloquent thank you, but you’ve set the bar very high. It is very kind of you to hold me in such high regard, and I only hope that through this life, we can find as many answers as we can to our existence and our consciousness. As you said, there is so much more to come, and thankfully we’re interested in realizing our full potential, and our greatest purpose. I always say that, even if there isn’t an afterlife, how wonderful is it that we were alive, and that our consciousness allowed us to be be aware of our existence, and to change it. We experience many difficulties, as well… but in the end, feeling something – being human – is a miracle in and of itself. Take care, my friend.

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