In 2019, the Swedish-American documentary “Life Catches up with Me,” directed by Kristin Samuelson and John Haptas, was released. It tells the story of refugee children in Sweden who, because of the uncertainty of their legal status, fall into “submission syndrome,” a coma-like condition. The question that arises when watching this: why do children “choose” death over life, even though the fear of death is supposedly the deepest, most primal feeling?
Fear of death is not the most fundamental fear. Much more powerful is the fear of a life without purpose!
The minute a person finds no meaning to his existence, he sinks into a state beneath life. Animals have no such questions. They simply exist because they follow their instincts. Therefore, for them, existence is life.
On the other hand, people need to know why they do what they do. Otherwise they have no motivation to act, and all sorts of regressive phenomena arise, from substance abuse to depression to submissive syndrome to suicide. A fruitless and empty life is worse than death, so people prefer death to aimlessness.
Nevertheless, the feeling that we have no purpose in life is a powerful engine. It makes us doubt everything. Humanity’s greatest discoveries were made as people sought answers to questions about the meaning of life.
Today, people seem to have everything they need for a great life. But they have no reason to live. So they ask themselves the question – what is life for?
This is the most important question possible; the answer is not on the surface. The reason for our existence is our value in the system, the network in which humanity enters. Each of us is a unique part of this network, and no one can fill the void left when one of us is absent. The greater everyone’s contribution to the strength of the network, the greater their value as individuals.
That is why sociologists and psychologists today are discovering that the key to happiness is the quality of our social connections. Only when we have positive social connections, when each of us realizes our potential for the benefit of the entire human ecosystem, only then are we truly happy and at the same time contribute to our communities, our countries and the world.
We can create a balanced society whose members are content and happy but do not exploit other people or the environment. This is only possible when each of us cares for others and finds our happiness in connection with others. This is where we can realize our personal potential for the benefit of society and the world.