Existence Of Man Essay Research Paper Existence

Existence Of Man Essay, Research Paper

Existence of Man

For centuries man has grappled with the riddle of what it means to be a

person. But the questions Who is man? and What is the meaning of life? are

still unanswered. Yet, while man is still a long way from arriving at any

acceptable definitions, there is deep within everyone the hint of an idea of

what it means to be a whole person, that is happy, functioning and fulfilled.

So, throughout history man has made a continuous search to find out what makes

him whole. Every person is different so the special situation in which one

person finds fulfillment can’t work for everyone. But in the lives of those who

have found fulfillment there is a universal pattern. The universal pattern is

that those who have found fulfillment have had a willingness to accept change

and take risks. Conversely, those who have not found wholeness are characterized

by an unconquerable desire to be safe, to be out of danger and to avoid risk.

The first step in the search for identity is to answer the question, How

do you see yourself? In the play No Exit by Jean Paul Sartre Estelle loses

sight of her identity. She says “When I can’t see myself, I begin to wonder if

I really and truly exist.” What a man sees himself as in the mirror largely

determines his actions during the day. Estelle had to look into the “mirror” of

men to confirm her identity. A man is the number one determining factor in

discovering who he is. Each individual must understand that he is responsible

for his own pain, misery, unhappiness, or for his own joy. Man is not a product

of what people have done or are now doing to us. Man has the power to become

whatever he wants to be; to feel as much love or anger or joy as we want to feel.

Another subsequent factor in determining our identity is the image, name, or

label given to us by society. In other words, what we believe other people

think of us. Most people participate in many groups friends, school, family,

jobs, clubs, churches and more each contributing to our identity. We have to

accept the death of the superman who is alone needing no one, inner directed and

indifferent to his surroundings. We see in Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and

Punishment that when Raskolnkov separates himself from humanity by committing

murder that he could not survive. A person needs to understand that they are

responsible for their own choices but they cannot discount the fact that there

will always be a group that is essential to understanding their identity.

There is a far more important area than how man sees himself or how

society sees him, this area is where he has the most control over his own

identity. The area in which he has most control over his own identity is in the

area of what he is actually doing. In other words, man determines himself by the

choices he makes. Having this freedom of choice entails commitment and

responsibility. Since individuals are free to choose their own path they must

accept the responsibility of following their commitment wherever it leads. In

the play No Exit by Sartre the characters Estelle and Garcin thought of

themselves as being nobler than what they were, when in reality the choices they

made determined one to be a boy toy and the other to be a cruel coward. The

Bible also gives us some insight on this point. What made Moses Moses? The

fact that he made the choices he did. If Moses had stayed in Pharaoh’s court,

if Moses had stayed in the desserts of Midian, or if Moses had refused to go to

Pharaoh, then he would not have been Moses. We have the freedom to choose and

we become what we choose to do.

Far to many people are locked into set patterns of thinking and living.

People resist change vigorously satisfied with the dull normality of the same

routines. One of the most vital ingredients to any fulfilling life is the

ability to accept change and choose to risk. Change for most people does not

always feel good but it is an important part in growing. Most people fear

change because they are afraid of the risks that it will bring. When people do

not conquer their fear all growth stops. The fear of growing of old is what

kept Estelle from being more than mere a boy toy. The fear of dying kept Garcin

from being a great pacifist journalist. If a Congressional Medal of Honor

winner had not conquered his fear of death, to jump out of a trench to save his

buddy, his friend would be dead. If Moses had not conquered his fear of losing

a comfortable life, Israel would still be slaves to Egypt. If Columbus had not

conquered his fear of falling off the earth, America would not have been

settled. If my Dad had not conquered his fear of rejection, I would have never

of been born. People need to look at their fear, consider all the options then

move out and act boldly. People can stand outside their fear indefinitely and

nothing will change. But everyone has within themselves the resources and the

strengths to face and confront their fears, and to become the whole person they

want to become, they have to do it.

The questions Who is man? and What is the meaning of life? may never be

answered in our lifetime. But people can begin to lead more fulfilling lives by

understanding and applying three closely related principles. People must begin

to see themselves as being their own self and not just a product of society.

After people realize that they are their own self they must realize they are

what they do. The final step in living more fulfilling lives is to be open to

change and risk. Breaking from this paralyzing fear will allow people to

realize life is a gift and they will try to live every day to the fullest.


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