Meaning Doesn’t Mean Much These Days
American technology, life spans, and level of prosperity has increased along every possible rational metric since the end of World War Two. Our water and air are cleaner than ever before in our history, our children are better fed and live longer, our elderly are better cared for, and even the amount of personal and social violence is down across the board.
But existential meaning–and the comfort and optimism that springs from grounded, secure, foundational meaning–has declined almost as precipitously.
The media we consume, from news to entertainment to social, pushes a declinist narrative; that is, “It’s never been worse for [NAME YOUR THING HERE IN ALL CAPS] and surely something should be done by someone” because the institutional power holding elite know that mental and emotional heuristics tend to bias human attention toward the negative rather than the positive.
Our internal, intimate, close relationships present an antidote to meaninglessness at mass via immediately accessible existential meaning. But as our level of relationships expands outward away from family and friends to neighbors and larger communities, the degree to which our pessimism about the future increases as well.
Meaning to Fill the Void
Human beings are naturally bad, and need to be ennobled by culture, and the existential meaning behind that ennobling used to be undergirded by Christian religion and a Christian creed of salvation.
However, as the secularist triumphalist narrative of skeptical rationality has overwhelmed the space in the public square Christian religion formerly occupied, the decline in the ability to articulate–and answer–the question “What does all this mean?” cannot be adequately addressed by deeper appeals to reciprocity, or rationalism, or even mysticism and pagan occult practices.
We know this instinctively, but cannot find the language, the words, to provide meaning; the will and courage to advance a robust narrative of meaning; the belief in the evidence to advance a narrative of meaning against the overwhelming power of a secular rationalist narrative or the seduction of a pagan occultist narrative.
Meaning Needs Old Tools
We need tools to solve this problem and they may not come forth the former ways we narrowly ascribed existential meaning to the world through religious, economic, cultural, or social narratives.
We do not need “new” narratives, “new” stories, or “new” appeals to commonality that are really just retreads of the past.
We need to develop a cosmological, total understanding of meaning, where it comes from, and how it is ascribed, and that process must begin in the past in order to establish a future morality.
A morality and meaning that will overcome the hollow secularist triumphalist narrative and crush the pagan occultic triumphalist narrative.
Otherwise, without meaning, without a vision, death is all that awaits around the corner.