The only thoughts I’ll ever truly know are my own. And yet, that doesn’t stop me from wanting to not be alone.
People spend their lives trying to belong: to a spouse, to a family, to a tribe, to a cause, to a country. Where does this need to be more than an individual come from?
Why do we feel the need to belong?
Related questions: Why do we care what strangers think of us? What does it mean to belong to a country? What are our responsibilities to others?
Most people, I think, would say they try to be happy. They want to construct their lives in such a way as to maximize happiness (however they might define ‘happiness’).
But in reality, unhappiness abounds. Unrest radiates from nearly every news broadcast. Stress levels deprive us of sleep, lead to overeating, and generally make us unhealthy.
Where does this discontinuity between desire (happiness) and reality (unhappiness) come from? If someone wants to be happy, why aren’t they? Why do we put up with unhappiness?
Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life? What motivates us? Why don’t we know what makes us happy?
Even the most learned among us is ignorant. There is so much to know about our world that it is impossible to know it all. How, then, do we categorize what we don’t know? If we don’t know something, how do we realize that there is a gap in our knowledge? When we examine ourselves, how can we tell if there is a lack or some learning that needs to be done?
How do we know what we don’t know?
Related questions: How do we grow? What does it mean to learn? How do we organize knowledge?
In pre-flight instructions, you are always advised, in the case of emergency, to take care of yourself before assisting others. This makes sense, because you won’t be able to help another if you yourself are in jeopardy.
This reasoning could be extended, however, to never actually helping anyone other than yourself. That doesn’t seem right. Helping others can end up helping you — a rising tide lifts all boats, as the saying goes.
A balance between yourself and others needs to be found. Hence the question: What are our responsibilities to others?
Related questions: What is the best way to help others? What is the best way to help yourself?