finding your anchor?
An anchor can keep great ships safe during the worst storms, they keep us upright, level headed and steady during trying and difficult circumstances. We need deep anchors in our lives so that we can weather whatever our life situation happens to be, because every difficulty will try to knock us off course or maroon us, and if we allow it to do so every time we experience resistance, it will drive us away from our destination and the discovery of the unknown land that reveals the purpose of our life.
Which is not something that we know during the course of our journey, we are not born with a life mission, it is only apparent afterwards when we have the retrospective view of our lives. It is something that is revealed to us by age and experience, and something we get to look forward to it like the end of a book, but we do not know what it is when we are travelling there, and it would be a spoiler if we did, and it probably would not be meaningful to us if we knew what it was beforehand. It is not suppose to be obvious in our youth, when you are young you have potential, the excitement of the unknown and with age you get to turn that potential into achievement. This is the natural order of your life, you change the energy of youth into the effect it has on your life, it is the time energy that we have no choice about spending but we do have full control of how we use it, and we exchange it for achievements and memories, the things that you have done with it.
However it is impossible to know in advance what your actual achievement will be, and entire lives have been wasted in the pursuit of an achievement that is never realised. The difference between a successful writer and a fool who was sat on his bottom for twenty years for no apparent reason, is entirely a matter out of the control of someone trying to give their life meaning and purpose, the only thing you get to decide is whether and what you try. Which is not a reason not to try in the first place, but if you are gambling on a single shot at achievement, you have to realise that you can fail, and history is full of people who have done so and failure can come with a heavy price, it can rip apart someone's self-identity so completely that they collapse into a destructive cycle of self abuse and suicide either through drug, drink and more direct methods.
Part of the reason is that it is so tempting to dedicate yourself to a single mission, is that it gives you the excuse to ignore every other aspect of your life, you have a reason to ignore your own health and happiness, to put aside the needs of your family and friends, to indulge yourself in pleasures as a reward for your dedication without concern for the effects of your actions, you even get to be completely unpleasant, to be rudely obnoxious and self absorbed. We have all heard the excuses for great people that being a genius means we have to forgive them for the mistakes, poor choices and things that they have done, the decisions they have made. Even putting aside whether geniuses need to be dreadful people, we have to recognise that this mythology does harm to the geniuses themselves. If you give them permission, you are effectively taking the responsibility for their actions away from them, and when you take responsibility away from a person, you are turning that person into a child, you are infantilizing them, and is that how we should repay geniuses, should we treat them as infants, or should we give them more responsibility to help them become better people.
Indeed it changes our understanding of the saying, that “you should protect the weak and stand-up to the strong”, it is always assumed that the good that is being done is entirely for the benefit of the weak, however in reality it is also to provide the strong with a responsibility for which they are accountable. If they know that is unacceptable to prey on the weak, to impose their will with force, that is their responsibility in turn to stand up to those who are stronger than they are and that they should protect the many people who are weaker than them in their responsibility to stand up to them. If everyone acted in such a manner, we would end up with a coherent society that share both a responsibility and a mission to protect the shared benefit of a peaceful and safe society which does not depend on the use of force, has its roots in a responsible society and the individuals who make up that society. Each individual has to make the decision to take on the responsibility to act in such a manner in whichever life situation they find themselves, though as each person does so, we lead by example and normalize such behaviour. By making the decision to always deal with the problem that is actually in front of them instead of going looking for bigger problem elsewhere, and the biggest problem is always yourself, everyone ends up take some responsibility and counter-intuitively we find that the weakest people are those with the greatest responsibility to hold those who are stronger than them accountable, and it is the strongest people who end up being responsible to protect those who carry the greatest responsibility.
It is sometimes hard to recognise the privilege that we have, we are tremendously fortunate to live in a world where we have the share benefits of a peaceful, safe and materialistically successful society, and it stems from the actions of individuals. It comes from each of them taking responsibility, and we should be grateful for every person who does so, but the underlying reason that so many people do, is that is good for them as well, by taking responsibility it gives their lives meaning and purpose. Being a good person is its own reward, when you take on the anchor of responsibility you are rewarded with a sense of purpose, and the more anchors you take on, the more purpose you feel. That is why it is so cruel to take responsibility away from people, that is why the reward for greatness is great responsibility. It is also why we should be so grateful for the weakest people in our society, they are our anchor, they are the people who provide us with responsibility, who keep us accountable and test us. The way we treat the weakest members of our society tells the truth of the nature of that society and its success.
When people do not have effective demand, when they do not have the money to pay for the basics of life, water, food and shelter, we are failing in our responsibility to protect the weak. A homeless person serves us by keeping us responsible, by testing our systems, how they protect people, and whether we are protecting them from the use of force whether that is physical or economic. They are the canary birds in the mine that tell us there is the danger of an explosion, that dangerous forces have built up. As for every homeless person, there is a fifty people struggling and slowly sinking to the bottom, they are the physical representation of the whole body of people who feel irrelevant and that society is indifferent to them.
It is up to society as a whole to take responsibility, we should be protecting the weak and in a society that uses money and has the resources to do so, that means giving people who cannot produce their own effective demand, that is work in a job (especially when the robots are coming to take so many of them), we should take on the responsibility to provide them with money so that they are enabled to keep us responsible by having the means to make decisions about the allocation of resources (that is the purpose of money in the first place). At the moment we effectively turn being jobless into a job, the most efficient and equitable way to make sure we have equal access to the basics, it is to give everyone an equal payment through universal basic income (which we already do so through pensions and unemployment benefit) which would make it fair for all of us including whose who have the opportunity to work.
Though if you are lucky enough to be economically strong, there is no need to wait for basic income, you are able to buy your own cash machine (stocks and bonds) to provide for your own needs, by taking on the responsibility to provide for yourself and those that you care about, without being dependant on you working, you are providing yourself with an anchor that will give you stability no matter what the economic weather that you encounter in your life. It also means that you are able to take on more responsibility, you are able to help with time and knowledge those who you love, you are able to give more to charities that help the poorest in the world, and it even means that you are able to paid a higher sales tax to pay for basic income for all. However most of all, it gives your life meaning, you get to work towards a goal and destination where your life is better and more secure, and where you have achieved something usual and different, in the same way that not many people have completed a marathon, there are even fewer people who have achieved truth independence and freedom, and is a true achievement, and the reward for this is not drinking gin cocktails on the beach (though certainly take the moment to enjoy a week or two), it is even more responsibility. You have to take on the responsibility of living a life where you are free to have an extraordinary life without excuses or a lack of resources, that is the trouble with freedom, it is completely down to you to chose to do something with it.