MEANING OF LIFE (conclusion) (Continuation of Part 26)
If we decide to live by a philosophy acknowledging that from our perspective, the universe is composed of progressively larger and smaller aggregations, how does it affect our perception of life as individuals; and how do we benefit from such an attitude?
All living things share an innate sense of purpose: driven by powerful sexual urges to perpetuate their kind, endowed with the instinct for self-preservation, and possessing the ability to make personal sacrifices for the good of others; these innate qualities ensure the continuation of life, and do not require any thought be put toward their function. Humans appear to be the only creatures with the capacity, or inclination, to analyze these attributes of existence. Although all people are capable of contemplating their place in the universe, a significant proportion of them do not, and simply focus their attention on concerns which impact their day-to-day lives. This is not necessarily a negative thing; for it is the way almost all other life-forms exist. However, due to our sheer numbers, and the impact this has on the environment, a segment of mankind must be aware of the consequences of various human activities, and act to influence the direction we take; otherwise nature will “take its course”, with dire consequences.
Contrary to what we are conditioned to believe, politicians and the rich do not represent the “brain” of our species. The majority of these people function on a very simple level, their desire for power and wealth a manifestation of the purely sexual competitive drive. Most individuals who enter politics receive a relatively modest salary, considering the responsibilities of the position, yet, of those not already rich, many leave politics as multimillionaires; it is interesting that their total income during their time in office amounts to a few hundred-thousand dollars, while their bank accounts grow disproportionately. Obviously, all but a few are in it for something other than altruistic motives.
Leaders of industry and government are typically people with the gumption to exploit the apathy of the general populace, and on a conscious level, are driven by self-serving impulses. The fact that they often have above-average intelligence is somewhat insignificant. Mental acuity is merely a human measure of value; nature has no use for mathematics: everything is measured as “enough”, “not enough”, or “more than enough”. An extensive vocabulary, a capacity to benefit from a costly education, and the ability to retain specialized knowledge, may be qualities respected by humans, but ultimately they are only characteristic of a portion of mankind; itself only an infinitesimal part of an interminable organism.
The worth of a creature or species is subject to its complementary relationship with all other life, and not its specific attributes. “Lesser” primates have rated as high as the equivalent of the thirty-fifth percentile on human intelligence scales, which means that thirty-four percent of people are less intelligent than some apes. This does not make these particular apes human, nor a third of us orangutans and chimps; that which is innate, and species-specific, identifies us as what we are.
Intelligence is the measure of one’s ability to reason, and although it is often related to knowledge and wisdom, these mental attributes are not dependent upon one another. A person can score poorly on an intelligence test, yet be wise and knowledgeable. If you do not have to reason out an original problem yourself, then the other abilities may well be of greater value than any amount of intellect.
The most brilliant of minds is severely handicapped, and may even be dangerous, without the qualities which enable foresight. The people who created the first atomic bomb were concerned that there was a possibility the explosion would cause a chain reaction involving the hydrogen in our atmosphere. They went ahead with their plans, determining that a quicker victory in the war was worth the risk of eliminating all life from the face of the planet. These scientists were obviously intelligent, yet lacked the wisdom to ascertain what constitutes an acceptable risk.
Every person possesses varying amounts of intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge; the latter two being very difficult to measure. Contemporary society tends to try and gauge these characteristics in material/sexual ways: someone who gains materially is consequently considered as a good potential provider or mate, and is “obviously” gifted with one or more of these mental attributes. Such a judgment is all well and good from the perspective of animals striving to preserve their genetic legacy, but does not address a situation where said animals are on a path to self-destruction.
There are people who apply their abilities in an esoteric way, with concerns that go beyond simple mating. Such individuals rarely receive notoriety in society, yet those with an exceptional aptitude for leadership have occasionally attained legendary status. Men such as Mohandas Gandhi, Socrates, Siddhartha Gautama, and K’ung Fu Tzu have been focal points for others who also share a more complex awareness of reality. These leaders would have accomplished little without the participation of that portion of society which thought as they did. Gandhi won India’s freedom from Britain through passive resistance, yet it was not Gandhi himself who taught the English that it would no longer be profitable to rule over the Indian people, but the sum of all those who believed in his idea and took action; some sacrificing their lives for the greater good when England responded to peaceable assembly with deadly force.
Many ancient leaders did not write down their thoughts, and many of the great philosophical minds adopted a celibate lifestyle; they left no written record nor genetic legacy, yet their wisdom lived on in the people who appreciated the worth of their contributions to mankind. Herein lies the value of those who would seem to be of secondary importance, for these often-nameless individuals perpetuated the knowledge which would otherwise have been lost, and subsequently were as noteworthy as the original mentors. A number of historical figures achieved little recognition during their own lifetimes; it was the efforts of a few “lesser lights” who later established their significance.
Every movement that has changed the course of humanity was the result of the actions of a great many people. The leaders who sparked the beginning of a transformation were formed by their experiences, including their encounters with numerous individuals who influenced their thoughts. Each movement succeeded due to the participation of others; and like the snowflakes that lead to an avalanche, not only is there a point where just one more triggers the event, each and every tiny snowflake equally contributes to the cause of the effect. The catch-phrase “one person can make a difference” is perhaps more accurately restated as “one additional person can make a difference”. Everyone is the sum of their experiences, and every effect is the sum of its causes.
Knowledge is to be passed from generation to generation, and mankind has advanced because each generation does not have to begin anew. The capacity to retain and perpetuate knowledge is part of our programming, and since every type of life-form, and each attribute, is genetically designed as a complementary component of our biosphere, the contributions each person makes are a part of the natural order of things. Man exists for a reason: because we fulfill a role within nature. The ability to preserve knowledge also exists for a reason; for it is a characteristic ensuring the survival of our species.
Therefore one of our roles as individuals is to build upon the wisdom gained by the preceding generations. Technology continues to advance, yet it is a reflection of our intelligence, rather than wisdom. We fail to stress the importance of wisdom, which is why it is said that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Due to our selfish ways, the knowledge associated with material gain is carefully preserved, while the concepts that are most important to the natural (or spiritual) well-being of all humans are often neglected. As well, we tend to hold onto the lessons that appear to have positive results while trying to forget those perceived as negative; but these are actually positive, in that we learn how to avoid repeating the errors of the past.
If you are reading philosophical texts such as this one, by your own volition, you are an individual with the capacity to reason beyond the mundane, and should feel an obligation to live up to your potential. The great majority of people fulfill a different, although equally important, role; which is as a genetic resource. A fraction of mankind serves as the guardians of wisdom; perhaps they are the “brain cells” of our species. Humanity appears to have always known this, with ancient writings referring to these people as shepherds, teachers, fathers, and other terms which denote a guiding role.
The Mythical Age created a culture where all abstract thought revolved around the actions of mystical deities, and all ancient texts contained a religious element. This continued until relatively recently; and even now a significant portion of society insists that any treatment of the nature of existence be attributed in some way to the actions of anthropomorphic gods. It is easy to dismiss the wisdom of past religious figures as being tainted by superstition and dogma, but in many cases their actions were the result of the dangers associated with failing to accredit one’s gods, and the advantages of using doctrine to impose values upon the masses. Although much of what is believed in religion is based on the ideas of men who wished to promote their own self-serving agendas, being that any position of influence will attract these shallow creatures, there is also invaluable knowledge preserved as well.
Faith is an excellent tool for manipulating the thoughts and actions of people. Because a segment of the population requires rules based on simple conditioning in order to function within the complex society we have created, the reward and punishment of religion can satisfy their spiritual needs, while supplying the motivation for various forms of conduct. The problem is that people have difficulty differentiating between doctrine that was put in place to benefit a particular individual, and that which is beneficial to all; and because they blindly cling to the ideology that assuages their fears and provides a sense of belonging, it is the task of those who disseminate the dogma to ensure that the corrupt components are minimized.
We see the evolution of religion in contemporary Christianity, Islam, and Judaism; where much of the self-serving doctrine is now ignored, and the rest is interpreted symbolically. The clergy do not believe in all the things they teach the congregation, but they believe in the value of the methodology; which guides and controls those who would otherwise be lost, and potentially detrimental to society.
We see the dangers inherent to religion in fundamentalism. A literal interpretation of sectarian literature is illogical: the text being contradictory in both a practical and ideological sense. Yet followers are obliviously obedient to a rigid system that unsuccessfully mixes the ethics of the wise with the desires of the evil. Fundamentalism is a situation where the people who have a limited capacity for independent thought, and therefore need others to provide them with strict rules to live by, have also become the clergy. At this moment, somewhere in the world, fundamentalists are systematically murdering people because of their beliefs, as has been the case for thousands of years.
To some people religion is the antithesis of reasoning. In many ways it is, but when teaching ethics to individuals incapable of understanding the science behind behaviour, parables and symbolic mythology become the only reasonable way to deal with the problem. Fluid belief systems are not entirely logical as such, but the members who realize the need to give others the impression that certain beliefs are “true”, are wisely trying to move people in a positive direction.
Rigid belief systems have few positive attributes, and are intolerant by nature; perpetuating the fears and prejudices of primitive, long-dead cultures. There is no wisdom nor logic in the automatic acceptance of unbending rules, where the original intent has been forgotten, and no explanations are offered or asked. Fundamentalism in particular is hence the adversary of reason, for it inhibits the advancement of knowledge.
People who follow a literal interpretation of Abrahamic beliefs have become a small minority, yet some of them cause a great deal of death and suffering in the world due to the comparative ruthlessness of their doctrine. Although one should strive to be accepting of beliefs different from our own, this must be tempered by the potential for harm inherent to certain systems. Some people lead an unthinking existence due to inborn shortcomings, but we must make every effort to prevent the controllers of such religions from imposing their will upon those who do not share their level of need. Tolerance of fundamentalism is dependent upon deeds, and those who cause harm cannot be ignored, just as those who commit crimes against others must be dealt with.
Humans are spiritual by nature, and tend to consider the mental aspect of existence separately from the physical. Because religion is a methodology which enables a segment of society to comprehend something more than basic physical being, it can be considered a component of spirituality. The nature of life is far more complex than that of the simple gods mankind creates, with their human frailties and vices, yet some level of figurative understanding is better than a complete absence of comprehension.
You exist with a purpose; the sequence of cause and effect has made it impossible for it to be otherwise. An infinite chain of events led to your birth, to the person you have developed into, to your reading of these words. Life perpetuates through its components, and each individual is a step in the sequence of genetic recombination, preservation of knowledge, and continuation of physical existence. Life persists because there are no gaps in this sequence; a perpetual flow of being, with the constituents changing each moment in time, yet the whole existing within the infinite passage of time.
Every human is a part of the stream of life-in-general, but the effects of each individual upon the universe are unfathomable. It is easier to concentrate on one’s influence on our own kind, and therefore contribute to how humanity changes that which it is a component of. Mankind’s health as a species is our greatest comprehensible purpose (acknowledging that the well-being of other life-forms is part of this).
The individual exists only for a brief moment, but that person’s legacy lives on, and for the majority of people it is the genetic aspect that matters most. Our innate drives ensure that the majority of us feel compelled to mate. The programming that causes pair-bonding (love) is in place to guarantee that our genes are perpetuated through the care we provide to our offspring. Although the problems with the artificial environment we have manufactured for ourselves has created a situation where society frequently must substitute for one or both caregivers, which has led to further social maladjustment, our population explosion attests to the power of our sexual instincts.
Most people will fulfill their primary purpose in life through reproduction, providing new genetic combinations which may ultimately be instrumental to the survival of our species. Millions of years of programming compels us to protect that which is the future; we have been designed to risk our own lives in order to guard our children, so that the chain of human existence remains unbroken. For most, this applies only to their own offspring, but since the components serve the whole, the efforts of a sufficient number of individuals equates to the security of the species.
Your physical existence lives on in your children, the genetic map which defines your material substance is within your progeny, and all subsequent generations. Nature demands that you make sure your offspring grow up to be both mentally and physically healthy enough to perpetuate your genetic legacy; and being that this behaviour is the preeminent instinct, anyone who produces children and then neglects their obligation is by definition, behaving in an aberrant, or unnatural, way.
This is one aspect of your immortality, another is the spiritual. The essence of your individuality; your values, beliefs, and knowledge live on most significantly in your children. Positive influences increase the likelihood of their perpetuating what is/was “you”. If the effect you have upon your offspring leads to their living long and productive lives, then they are more likely to pass on your physical and spiritual legacy; for a negative influence usually results in children who grow up to be maladjusted adults, and are less desirable as mates. As well, the tendency to try and forget the unpleasant conduct of one’s parents means that eventually all that will remain of your existence as an individual will be suppressed memories; and in subsequent generations, will only be kept alive in the psychological problems each generation inflicts upon the next. No person’s effect can be removed from the world, whether good or bad, but it is human nature to try to eliminate the negative.
Does this run contrary to the reality that we must control our soaring population; if the common person lives on through their children, do they lose their significance by practicing restraint? Aside from the fact that raising one child alone produces a result far superior to raising one among many, hence everyone who feels compelled to reproduce can contribute to the vibrancy of our species by stopping at one; there is the logic of genetics.
We all share the same lineage; that which is human grew from that which was first human. When you have a child, half of its chromosomes are yours, and half are from your partner. That child may eventually produce one of its own, which will then contain one quarter of your DNA. Mathematically speaking, it takes relatively few generations before you would be almost as closely related to any given person, as to the future recipient of your genes. Of the DNA which is unique, you share about six percent with your great-great-grandmother, while almost ninety-four percent is that of other people. When we consider that the genes which differentiate one person from another make up a minuscule portion of the total, and all humans are overwhelmingly genetically identical, it becomes apparent that kinship extends to everyone.
Logically the innate drives apply to anyone’s children; and for that matter, to all those in need. Protective instincts are intended to enforce obedience to nature upon the “lowest common denominator”, but the purpose is to ensure the security of the species as a whole. People who cannot comprehend the “big picture” will fulfill their role through their immediate family, while those with the ability to understand that they are a component of something far greater will contribute in a different, yet corresponding, way.
Even if we were completely successful at reducing our birth rate, there would always be enough genetic diversity to serve the requirements of our species; the few hundred-thousand people who existed for most of our history were evidently enough to ensure an overabundance now. What appears to be of equal importance, and perhaps more so, is the perpetuation of knowledge. Overall human mental ability continues to decline, and recent studies suggest that it may be falling at a considerably faster rate than first thought. We thrive because of our aptitude for reasoning, allowing us to keep the wisdom accumulated over the ages alive in today’s generations. If mankind were forced to begin anew, without the knowledge retained from the past, would modern humans still have enough intelligence to survive in a purely natural environment?
Of course it is quite improbable that we would ever face such a circumstance, but the mental/spiritual attributes of our design are obviously important to our roles as individuals. A large portion of the population will always reproduce indiscriminately, which guarantees random variation in chromosome pairings, but likewise results in an expansion of what is predominantly human "mass”. As the makeup of our species changes, the importance of the shrinking number of those who represent the “mind” of humanity grows.
Without ever producing a child, you nevertheless contribute to the continuation of humanity simply by thinking. It is an inescapable fact that you cannot exist without influencing others; every encounter, regardless of how trivial it may seem, has an affect upon the participants. Knowing this, one can see that positive interaction serves the purpose of perpetuating our kind, and in a way, our own significance.
Blind obedience is the chosen path for most people, but for the ones who have the ability and desire to fulfill the mental component of our programming, it is poison to the spirit. A large segment of the populace feels that their lives are inconsequential, with no purpose or worth; this attitude so deeply ingrained that even their religious vision of a mystical reward, which is supposed to make up for enduring a trivial existence, condemns them to an equally pointless eternity of groveling before an ethereal master.
A sense of personal value comes from knowing that everyone makes a difference. It may not be obvious that you have changed the destiny of someone you have encountered, and any noticeable consequence may not occur until long after your death; but you are constantly a contributing cause of future events. If this realization were widespread, all organized religions would have beliefs similar to Buddhism, where being a component of “God” engenders worth, rather than token subservience.
Earlier we addressed the subject of how a living thing can physically perish, but does not end. Energy and matter cannot be destroyed; the material constituents continue on in other forms, and the energy is dispersed. The animating life-force is no longer detectable, but as evident with bacteria, it remains available to “dead” organisms for millions of years. All of the components of life are essentially eternal, and the defining property of life, intent, is perpetual in that it endures ceaselessly in all life-forms as a generic attribute; in the same way that your individuality remains intact despite the fact that many of your cells die each moment. Because of this, we must see our own substance as everlasting in the sense that our physical components continue as part of existence-in-general, and that which is spiritual remains a constituent of the human identity. Your individuality, like that of any particular brain cell, may have ended in a material way; but its contribution to the consciousness of the whole is alive in the greater entity.
Sentience exists as cause and effect. The process enabling awareness is an ongoing sequence of mental events. On a basic level, it is a series of impulses occurring at the speed of light; but we only perceive “whole thoughts”, rather than the aggregation of inputs and sensations constantly contributing to these thoughts. Each infinitesimal fragment is undoubtedly critical to the total, but we ascribe a higher importance to successively greater sums of mental events, equating to longer intervals of time.
When you are an infant, any object or activity capturing your attention represents the most important event of your life. Later it may be your first day of school, and then it is the sum of all of the experiences associated with the period in which you attended that gain the most significance. Ultimately, you look back on things such as marriage, a career, and then your life in general, as that which was of consequence. Beyond that, some consider their potential affect upon the world; which is again a greater total of contributing events.
Your effect is perpetual, and being that it becomes an ever-increasing component of the human consciousness, as people you influenced continue to pass the changes you made in them onto others, you become immortal in the sense that your mental/spiritual essence remains part of the physical substance that constitutes humankind as a whole. It is obviously ever-changing, which is no different than the process which occurs during your own material existence, and just as your current perception of the events that formed your past have evolved with the passage of time, the memories being held by brain cells that did not exist during the actual events, your essence lingers in the future within the cells of others.
In some ways individuality is only a perception. You owe your material structure to those who lived before you, the design being a replication of actual pieces of your parents. Your innate behaviour, including the capacity to feel, and how you respond to emotions, is a perpetuation of that which exists in all normal humans, and is likewise physically passed through generations. Most of what you know was not gained through first-hand experience, the knowledge was accumulated and developed in the past, and taught to you by others. Nearly everyone will go through life without having a particular thought that wasn’t thought by someone before, nor a specific experience that is outwardly unique.
Individuality seems an insignificant attribute in the vast majority of people; for the most part, they appear to be simple ingredients of the concepts created by those who wish to promote an agenda. During the Cold War, Americans felt and expressed a hatred for Communism; likewise, Soviets considered Capitalism to be a manifestation of evil. Few people on either side had any understanding of how each government actually worked, nor any knowledge of the reasons why a society would find it necessary to adopt a particular system. People thought as they were told to think, and as so many desire, felt part of a national identity. For most this was preferable to being compelled to reason toward an independent conclusion, and risk being different from the other members of their “pack”.
For the majority, there is no “higher purpose” comprehensible to them, there is only a relatively thoughtless existence; which does, of course, fulfill a purpose, and hence is actually their “meaning of life”. A small segment of humanity is aware, either consciously or subconsciously, of how mankind functions as a unit, and has the capacity to direct the behaviour of the masses. Of such people, there is a constant conflict between those who are enlightened, and concerned with goals that supersede the life-span of a single individual, and those who only grasp the obvious, and focus on superficial, material pursuits.
In the Communism versus Capitalism example, each side magnified the flaws inherent to the other system, and cultivated an unreasonable fear of, what was to most, the unknown. This is the way it is done in almost all instances. Mankind, as a whole, is comparable to an ocean liner; where mass and momentum make changing course a slow and ponderous action. In order to establish new patterns in human behaviour, it is necessary to impart a sense of urgency, which involves exaggerating the negative aspects of what is unwanted, while minimizing the cost, whether material or social, of the desired effect.
The predictions of impending environmental disaster voiced by many organizations are obviously not entirely true; facts do not support most of their claims. Assertions of the imminent destruction of the human race due to overpopulation were likewise overblown in the late Sixties and early Seventies, when such concerns first gained prominence. That said, we must realize that if we had not seen a shift in the attitudes of a significant proportion of the populace, these dire forecasts would have ultimately become truth. Because an extraordinary effort is needed in order to redirect humanity, dangers are misrepresented so that we can begin to change course in advance.
You cannot simply give the average person data that portends disaster, and have them extrapolate to a logical conclusion; they lack the foresight to understand cause and effect beyond the moment. Everything must seem to have an immediate and substantial affect upon their lives, otherwise it will become something that only warrants attention in “the future”; meaning that it will not be addressed until it is likely too late.
We must keep these things in mind when tempted to criticize the methodology of certain organizations, scientists, or clergy. Although some of us wish to think for ourselves, and make decisions based on factual evidence, we sometimes forget that manipulation of what the masses believe is often the most logical of choices. Accurate knowledge must be available to everyone, allowing those with the capacity and inclination to contribute to our collective pool of wisdom; yet those who do not think independently won’t seek out this knowledge, nor will they believe it, if it conflicts with what they have been told to think. We must hesitate, before proactively interfering with others, and determine what is ultimately in the best interests of everyone.
All individuals contribute towards our destiny as a species, but only a portion of humanity has the potential to choose our direction as a society. The influence you have, as one person, is an important component of the whole; logic dictates that there is a point where one more or less equates to “enough”. If enough people want tighter safety procedures at nuclear facilities, politicians will campaign for new rules; knowing that it will increase the likelihood of reelection, which will enable them to fulfill their own unrelated self-serving agenda. If enough people desired fewer moral restrictions on broadcasting, network executives would fill the airwaves with nudity; knowing that they would gain market-share, which increases profits, and hence their own personal fortunes.
Altruistic goals are often facilitated by capitalizing on the selfishness of others. Progress does not have to be flawless, for there will often be negative aspects to our attempts at improving the lot of humanity; but each step is a component of the greater good.
Some people disagree with referring to our role in life as an obligation, but this is exactly how it must be viewed. We are responsible for our actions, and being that a failure to act will have negative consequences of some sort, we are obligated to do what is right for all concerned. An off-duty doctor who comes across an injured person feels morally bound to provide assistance. Having the capacity to make a difference, the doctor does what is needed without thought of inconvenience or the victim’s ability to pay; this is due to there being something much more valuable at stake. Because the physician can help, he/she is demonstrating worth; psychologically, this builds a strong self-image, and reinforces the instinctive human need to project Alpha status.
Being the “Alpha” does not require that a person do anything other than that which is ostensibly self-serving; but our other programming, to behave as gregarious creatures and guarantee the perpetuation of the species, makes actions we perceive as altruistic inherently self-rewarding. Doing what we feel is right is fulfilling an innate agenda, and consequently has a positive affect on our mental health. We feel good about ourselves when we donate to charity, or perform an act of kindness without an expectation of palpable reward. We experience a sense of personal value, and realize that our actions make a difference in the world.
Not everyone can afford to donate their time or money, although statistically the less money one has, the higher the percentage of their income is contributed to charity; which says a great deal about the mindset of the rich. If you recognize that everything you do can be compared to acts of charity, in that your positive affect upon others is perceptible and perpetual, you will gain self-esteem from the things you do every day. You can feel a sense of duty to the higher purpose in nature, which is the perpetuation of life, and of our species; but you also have an obligation to yourself.
Self-respect leads to self-confidence, and being sure of oneself means that you are aware of your value as a person, and acknowledge that you have the capacity to overcome obstacles. Life’s problems, so many of which are trivial in comparison to the greater scheme of things, tend to sort themselves out because they can be taken in context, and never gain the significance to corrupt your judgment. Self-confidence is tangible to other people, allowing you to have a more substantial influence upon them. Your opinion matters, and although nobody knows all there is to know, the self-assured individual is certain that they can, in time, find the knowledge to come to a logical conclusion.
People who are sure of their abilities and values tend to take responsibility for their own actions. Since their faith in themselves is a source of their sense of worth and defines their individuality, they are less likely to permit the negative actions of others to reflect upon themselves, nor use these influences as an excuse for personal failure.
You accomplish little by comparing yourself to others. There was only one Mohandas Gandhi, and only one Mother Teresa. Circumstances dictate our opportunities, and a combination of genetics and experience shape us into who we are. Each of us is unique, and contribute to overall existence in a manner determined by cause and effect. Doing our best is enough, and what each of us is capable of, is relative. If we can conceive of practical ways to be “more”, then we should be more. We have an obligation to ourselves to fulfill our maximum potential, which ultimately meets our obligation to mankind, and life-in-general. We can begin to sort out humanity’s problems simply by putting our own lives in order, but there are those who have the capacity, and often the need, to go beyond the basics.
The interchangeability of altruism and egoism means that by ensuring our own feelings of personal value in a mental/spiritual way, we contribute to the well-being of the whole; the parts define the sum. Every sad person is a component of the sadness in the world, every hateful person is a part of global hatred. One less angry individual still logically results in less anger within humanity, just as one more adds to the total. Because we cannot exist without affecting those we encounter, one can translate into many; because a change occurs as the result of a single additional cause, one can change the world.