There has been a longstanding debate, one which spans back decades, regarding animal rights.
In more recent times, that debate has sought to conclude some incredibly complex questions, such as, the meaning of life.
The big question is ‘do animals have the same meaning of life/the same purpose as human beings.’ If they do not, then what is their life purpose? Surely it must have some sort of meaning, otherwise what would motivate them to get out of bed every day. What would stop them from sinking into depression? But that is a whole other debate- do animals even have mental health? Can they develop conditions such as depression?
With so many unanswered questions, I am devoting todays post to exploring this incredibly complex debate. Hopefully, it will inspire you to ask yourself deeper questions too. You might learn something new! So, lets start researching and dive right in!
Before we can even begin to contemplate the meaning of life, we firstly need to define ‘meaning.’
According to the English Dictionary, ‘meaning’ can be defined as something which is ‘intended to be.’ It is something that ‘signifies the end/the purpose.’
Therefore, when we ask; ‘what is the meaning of life?’, we are ultimately seeking out our life purpose, with the hope of discovering why we are here, and what this strange existence is all about.
Now, if you are anything like me, I am sure you will have thought about your purpose in life many times. I think its something that, as humans, we tend to question a lot. It helps us to make sense of the world, providing us with a sense of direction as to where our life is headed.
Unlike humans, however, animals are incapable of having such thoughts.
Whilst it is true that both humans and animals are driven by instinct (e.g., if they are feeling hungry, they know to eat), humans, unlike animals, have reason.
Having reason is what stops us from making what can only be described as ‘rash’ decisions. To use an example, when cats see a mouse, they follow their instinct which tells them to catch the mouse and kill it. They have no reason; therefore, they do not think to themselves; ‘I have cat food in the house, I don’t need to kill this mouse’, they act impulsively and do it anyway, just because they can. Humans on the other hand, do have reason, and it is this reason that guides us through life, acting as a sort of ‘moral compass’ to keep us on the right track.
With an absence of reason, animals live minute by minute, incapable of questioning life in the way that us humans do. They are aware that they are alive, but they do not ponder over why that is. ‘It is what it is’ to them, an attitude I think that we, as humans, could do with a bit more of for ourselves!
Because we get so caught up in what we perceive as being a ‘need’ to be productive, that we forget to focus on the present and ‘just be.’ Instead, we are constantly on the go, forever looking ahead to what is next, because that is how we fulfil our life purpose, right?
Next time you go for a walk around your local park, or take a trip to a lake, notice how the birds peacefully sing from the trees, and the ducks calmly float in the water. Notice how every living thing in nature is just there, in the present. They are not stressing about what they must do in a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks, and nor are they questioning why they are doing what they are doing. Instead, they are just getting on with their lives, living in peace and harmony with each other.
How amazing does that sound?!
We need to be more like these guys.
But, if animals fail to have reason, and reason is what allows us to ponder over the very question I am posing in todays post, ‘what is the meaning of life?’, then surely that means that animals do not have a meaning to their lives?
Again, this is wrong.
They do not know the reason why they are here, alive, but they live on regardless.
Humans however, we are constantly seeking to understand why we are here. We end up spending our whole lives searching for our purpose, and even when we find it, when it was right in front of us, so obvious all along, we continue to look, thinking that there must be something more, something bigger and more exciting waiting for us. This constant search for the meaning of life, a concept which, in my opinion, is too big of a thing for us to even comprehend, let alone discover, ends up wasting our precious time.
Animals, however, are blissfully unaware that such concepts even exist. As such, they are free of the excessive worries that, as a species, us human beings subject ourselves to.
Rather than battling in the seemingly never-ending minefield of confusing and often unanswerable questions we ask about life, animals instead focus on what is truly important, living in the present moment.
That is not to say that animal’s lives are meaningless, because that could not be further from the truth. What I am saying is that they do not have reason and so they therefore cannot question their life’s meaning for themselves. This serves them well, because instead of wasting their lives pondering over a question too complex for anyone to ever understand, they trust that everything happens for a reason.
We need to be more trusting like our animal friends are, for the fact is, only the universe and a higher power know the true meaning of our lives. It cannot be found in our work or our hobbies. The real meaning of our lives is beyond our comprehension, and so we must have faith in that higher power to guide us, for it knows what it is doing.
You will figure it out-purpose, meaning, and all- one day. And when that day comes, everything will make sense. Whether that will be in this lifetime, or another, just know that you are on the right path, exactly where you are supposed to be, and I hope you can take comfort in that.
I hope that you will have faith in the limitless power of the universe.
In the meantime, I hope that you are able to take joy in the simple things, like the feeling of the wind in your hair during a walk with your family, the calmness of sitting in meditation, and the warming taste of soup on a cold winter’s day.
Everything else, all the superficial things like money, they do not matter.
So, always remember to stay firmly in the present.
Cherish every moment you are blessed to be here for, because;
to live is to be.