I have always had strong feelings of empathy. I identify with other peoples’ pain to the point where it can become emotionally debilitating. I have spent countless dark nights of the soul contemplating the suffering of other people. This contemplation has greatly informed my sense of ethics and perception of reality.
A friend of mine recently told me, “Life is meaningless. And right and wrong do not exist.” I too believed this for a short period of my life. But for much more of it I have claimed that we are unable to know whether or not they exist, at least from any objective standpoint. Right and wrong could very well exist, but how are we to understand them as finite beings with limited knowledge? Søren Kierkegaard laid out a philosophical structure that examines questions such as these. He portrayed each one of us as an individual staring at the face of an absurd reality, overwhelmed with angst and uncertainty at our infinite freedom. We must make choices, many of which are dependent on faith, for we often operate outside the limits of reason. Kierkegaard suggested that we leap over this abyss of uncertainty and into the structure of religious faith. I have taken that leap in my own life, in the attempt to grasp at meaning in a world of apparent meaninglessness.
In a world where we are unable to know anything with complete certainty, we must make choices to the best of our ability, rather than become paralyzed by fear and unknowing. Kierkegaard believed that the persistent pursuit of truth is what gives our lives meaning. In my own life I have sought to follow completely my own sense of conscience and intuition, and to examine these leadings with reason. I have found that the more these senses are used, the more they develop and lead closer to truth.