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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit
of Meaning
Copyright © 2009 by Richard A. Grossman, Ph.D.  ·  All Rights reserved  ·  E-Mail: ragrossman@voicelessness.com
Some 25 years ago, my then teenage stepdaughter, Claire, came into our bedroom at one o’clock in the morning crying.  What exactly is the point, she asked, if we’re all going to die?  Claire had been something of a hellion through her adolescence, but at that moment I suddenly felt achingly attached to her.

The problem was:  how was I to respond when I had exactly the same doubts myself?  “To be truthful, Claire, I don’t know what the point is?”  Luckily, Hildy was there, and as you might guess, she’s a very positive person.  She quickly comforted Claire, took her back to bed, and in the morning, sure enough, the hellion was back.

People who don’t know, or aren’t sure what the point is, are either pitied or they make others uncomfortable.  We are indeed strangers in a strange land.  Of course we continue to search for a point, sometimes obsessively—and just when we think we’ve found one, we sleep on it and the next day we realize we were wrong.  Over time I’ve found my personal answer. But before I tell you, let me say what hasn’t worked for me.

For many people, religion provides the answer.  The point is found in the afterlife, one’s relationship with God, or both.  While this answer has provided comfort to many, it also has brought down skyscrapers—and may, if you believe Sam Harris in The End of Faith, destroy civilization as we know it.  Still, moderated faith seems to me to be a wonderful thing.  People who believe are generally happier than those who don’t, and with faith, the existential concerns that are constantly nipping at our heels during our life journey can be easily swatted away.   So, believe—you’ll feel better.  If only I could.  I take some solace in the fact that it’s not my fault.  Recent evidence suggests that capacity for faith has
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