I encourage each of you to try living an "examined life".
In the Apology, Plato's Socrates says "the unexamined life is not worth living", the grand-daddy of all philosophical quotes. Just over 2 years ago I discovered what that means in full and it has made me very happy. So what does it mean?
The examined life means you've taken a look at yourself, and dissected what you believe and why you believe it, down to the finest points. The finest points meaning you've reached your limits of contemplation and you do have those reasonable answers. The examined life means you've looked at life's MOST IMPORTANT questions, and the lessor ones, and taken them down down all the way to the floor and beyond before rendering your verdict. How else would you know if you're acting rightly?
Spoiler Alert!: Magic is never the answer.
Let me give you an example. I was puzzled by the question of same-sex marriage. We all had our knee-jerk, yes or no answers -but people couldn't clearly describe the reasoning behind them. Except of course the religious and their faulty books.
The question bugged me for a full 18 months! I kept regressing my question back to "what IS marriage?" and "who does it matter to?". No one had a good definition, AND THAT was the biggest problem.
I came to my own definition of marriage as this: The human animal naturally "couples" or "pairs" for long periods of time. Because of our big-brains, language, and concepts, we have this new extra layer called 'marriage'. It's a socially important contract that reinforces our natural coupling, and states 'THIS IS MY MATE. WE ARE ONE. HANDS OFF'.
After that, the question of same sex marriage became much easier...
Who does it matter to, whether the couple is same-sex?
1. The couple. We know how they feel.
2. The church performing the wedding. They can choose what they want.
3. Society and the government. Ahh! -Is it harmful to society and should we endorse it?
Considering the question of "is same-sex marriage harmful to society?", I thought of how children might be affected (school, media, ...). I thought of the strong family bricks by which we build our society, and other questions concerning freedoms, procreation, promiscuity, and what it means to be 'human'... finally I had my answer.
Yes I'm OK with same-sex marriage. The family bricks by which we build society may change color -but they will still be just as strong. families will still be built with the values of love, self worth, and tolerance. And as a kicker, if this experiment failed, it would simply fall out of fashion and die out.
Incidentally, before contemplating same-sex marriage for 18 months -I was against it. I told people I was against my own opposite-sex marriage because, one should go to the state for their benefits -but go to a church to get married. What does marriage have to do with the state? -That's a church thing.
A person seeking the examined life will have to answer for themselves life's big questions. "Why am I here?", "Is there a purpose or a meaning?", "Should I be good or bad?", "Is there a Divine", "Can consciousness be separate from the body?", "Should I care about being charitable?"...
Life has become a joy for me. I know for sure some answers and can recite my reasoning with good affect. Other questions continually intrigue me...
"Is abortion right or wrong?"
"Is a color, by itself, beautiful?" (no)
"Why do people do bad things?" (the insane ego)
"Are we meant to WORK our lives away?" (no)
"Are animals our property to kill?"
"Should we procreate unfettered?"
and so on.
So there's only a small percentage of the population that cares to think this way. Many are "lazy thinkers" and will grasp the first thing that has a semi-sensible answer (religion). Some people can't think that many levels down and still hold it all together.
Now I KNOW you are a smart and clever person. You've proven it by simply being here on this site. I encourage you to give the examined life a try and find the benefits I've found.
Why do you believe what you believe, down to the bits?