As I enter into the new year 2019, this is one of the most interesting messages from 2018 which I take to 2019. As a philosophy student, there are many similar statements. Descartes would say, “I think, therefore I am.” Others might say “I am therefore I think.” Somebody wrote an article on Levinas titled, “You are, therefore, I am.” I am not going to discuss all of them, but to dwell a little into the quote by Albert Camus.
Albert Camus is a famous French philosopher and author who wrote many interesting books. He was an atheist. He argued for humanistic values. Most inspiring thing from him is this understanding, “All our lives are absurd in the grander scheme of things, but he resists utter hopelessness/ nihilism. We have to live with the knowledge that our efforts will be largely futile, our lives soon forgotten and our species corrupt and violent, yet we should endure nevertheless.” Despite senselessness/ hopelessness he experienced, he was still an activist. He would say, “His philosophy as a lucid invitation to live and create in the midst of deserts.” This is the context of the author who invites us to rebel. I will take his quote, and level Camus behind now.
I think a good resolution for the new year 2019 would be “the promise to rebel, whenever required“.When persons like Jesus, Buddha and such are rebels in their own times, we are not in very bad company. What should we rebel against, and what is our destination?
What should we rebel against…? Against stable identities trying to strangle us. Each one of us does have multiple identities, but some of them are more prominent than others. [I have identities like Indian, Christian, Student, philosopher, son, Jesuit, and many more. Probably some are more important at this point that others]. Now the problem occurs when some identities are given a static definition or a definition by certain vested interests. A slogan against the ruling governments make some anti-national. A question against authorities (religious/cultural) make some anti-religion or anti-society. Identities have to be a fluid/dynamic state and we should rebel against attempts to fix them for the benefit of certain vested interests.
And what is our destination? A very difficult question to answer. Jesus said, “I came to give life and life in its fullness” Full Life is a possible answer, but it needs to preserve the mystery dimension. It can’t be defined as this/that. The uniqueness of each individual person can’t be forgotten in this journey to fullness. Two other words that could capture this dimension of destination is ‘horizon & Infinity.’ To use the title of a book by Fr Kuruvilla Pandickattu, they are ‘ever approachable, never attainable‘. Another image could be the concept of freedom as in the poem of Rabindra Nath Tagore.
In the present context of our country and world, one invitation from 2019 is, “To rebel from stagnating stable identities to continue the journey towards fullness/freedom.” Thus by rebelling, I exist …. I exist authentically…