There is a popular saying amongst the people of the Yoruba tribe in West Africa, it goes thus:
omo to ba ni ki iyare masu, ounna ko ni sun
(The child that has said his mother will not sleep, shall also not sleep).
This proverb spears right through the logic of paying prices – the necessity of paying a price, by the virtue of taking a certain position.
However, knowing if, when, and how we are paying our dues in life is never straightforward. In this very short essay I will explore this idea in three domains: work, love, and faith, or if you like, God, love, and Karl Marx.
I will start with Karl Marx
Karl Marx’s Epicureanism.
Epicurus bursted the bubble about money and happiness well over two thousand years ago, long before modern psychologists began to rediscover it. He was a negative hedonist.
His thesis was clear – what makes us happy is not money or orgy. It is the fellowship of working (and living) in groups, and the clear and visible knowledge of our works making a difference, be it a carpenter or a tailor.
The successful social experiments of Epicurus clearly influenced Karl Marx’s intellectual pursuits.
While Karl Marx’s proposed solution to the plagues of capitalism in 19th century failed horribly, some of his ideas (which Epicurus suggested centuries ago) remains germane till today.
Capitalist economy produces alienation – a sense of isolation between a worker and the product of her labor.
Clearly, alienation is a price we must pay for our possessions, our capitalist economy, as capitalism feeds obligately on alienation.
Let’s take John, a data analyst for a sugar company called Novata. In the last 3 years working for the firm, he has never seen a single cube of Novata sugar. He is losing a key source of happiness in his life, and he does not know it.
John is akin to an amphibian who has spent his entire life in the water, what else does he know?
The ideology of romanticism has basically ripped us off. As a response to the age of reason, fettered love and arranged marriages; romanticism burgeoned. Since the adoption of romanticism (of love), I will argue situations appear to have gone sour.
Unfortunately, our environment had made (and continue to make) the ideology flourish, aiding uncountable marriage debacles. As a race, we are gradually losing our abilities for long lasting relationships.
Romanticism tells us that love and marriage is always happy, and that’s what we see around. For some reason, partners seem to forget to take some snapshots of those nasty-late-night-hot-arguments and share it with us.
But they remember too often to take blissful selfies over dinner and share it on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat most likely with the following hashtags #babe #sugar #honey #sweetie #relationshipgoals #myheart et cetera.
Long lasting relationships, sadly, is really far from always happy. But we can make it close.
There is a price we must pay for long lasting relationships: it is the brave acceptance of imperfection.
As the Philosopher Alain de botton puts it: “The more you know about love, the less important it is who you are loving”.
While the price we must pay here might appear obvious, we are, typically, unwilling to pay it. Apart from the fact that paying the price can be very hard, we also get the impression that others aren’t paying it. Thanks to Instagram, Facebook and the philosophy of romantic love.
Romanticism, in essence, is preventing a lot of us from paying our dues, preventing us to love.
I am a graduate student in the United States doing science research. And just like I heard back home in Africa, I wasn’t surprised to find out that several western scientists seem not to be bothered about God.
But what surprises me is that some of my colleagues argues that belief in God is irrational.
It leaves me dumbfounded each time I hear such arguments.
Very quickly, this time around let’s take Dr. Desk, a professor of Computational Mathematics, who believes it’s completely irrational to believe in God, because, he states “God had failed to give us any assurance that he exists”. But back home, he decided to have a set of triplets with his wife.
Two decades later, sadly, the triplets died in a plane crash. After deep and lengthy meditations in Erdene Zuu Monastery, far away in Mongolia, he discovered that he had paid a price called faith for having kids, as he had no assurance whatsoever that his triplets will outlive him.
Similarly, as strange as it might sound, a price must be paid to belief in God. That price is called faith. And this is not faith without evidence, as such does not exist, there must be an evidence for faith to exist. In other words, faith grows out of evidence.
And to whatever side you are on the aisle – we are all men of faith.
We are all paying a price.