Robert (Bro. Pepper-spray of Reasoned Discussion) (montecristo) wrote,
Robert (Bro. Pepper-spray of Reasoned Discussion)

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So what if life IS a Kobayashi Maru?

prolixfootle and I have been having another discussion of our respective senses of life. He's been feeling somewhat pessimistic lately, and trapped in webs of circumstance. Mr. Footle enjoys a penchant for Star Trek metaphors and posited that life is a Kobayashi Maru. The Kobayashi Maru, featured in the movie "The Wrath of Khan", is a test of character given to cadets at Starfleet Academy. There is no way to "win" the scenario given in the test. No matter what course of action the student takes, the test is rigged to lead to a losing situation.

When prolixfootle first brought the idea up, that life could be compared to the Kobayashi Maru Test, with no winning possible, I rejected the view of life entirely, as did the movie's hero, Captain Kirk, who sabotaged the test so that it became possible for him to win the scenario. I do not believe in the no-win situation, for the most part. Where there is life, there is hope. There is always an alternative. To believe otherwise is to limit yourself and shut down your own options. There is nothing more self-fulfilling than the idea that you are predestined. It also forecloses your chance for happiness.

Of course, upon further reflection, I realize that life ultimately can be thought of as a kind of Kobayashi Maru test. There is nothing more inevitable than the end of life. There has not been a human born yet who has escaped the clutches of death, ultimately. I personally am hoping that medicine will crack the aging problem and that I will be able to plant a sequoia on my hundredth birthday and live to see it's great-great-great-great grandchildren turn into topsoil. Of course, it's a long-shot, but considering the alternative, it's something nice for which to hope. The thing is, there is always the possibility of catastrophe. I could be run over by a bus tomorrow, a world-wrecking meteor may have a fender-bender with the planet. Eventually, entropy will devour the universe. Ultimately, it is not without merit to regard life as a Kobayashi Maru -- it's like a video game -- you can't win; you can only play until you lose.

Now, given that, I say, "So what?" What does that change about what I am doing now? How does this information, the reality of the universe's teleology, change what I am going to do with myself in the next minute? None of us is an existential inevitability. We did not have to be, but we are. If I had not been born, the universe would have gone on ticking away despite missing my advent. Ultimately, existence is without any meaning, because it takes a mind to give meaning to what is. That's the point. If my existence is to have meaning it has no other meaning than that which I give it. Carpe diem: seize the day. The Kobayashi Maru is a test of character -- so is life. The end of the scenario is completely beside the point; the test is not about that, but about what you do with the time you have before the end. That time is ours to define and shape and give meaning. Doing these things effectively, in such a way that your existence is enriched by the acquisition of more and greater material and spiritual values, is the source of happiness.

Tags: introspection, philosophy, who i am

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