On earth, only animals exist. Us humans are one of the most extraordinary of all, having evolved beyond the point of survival. We came so far that we are the only (non-domesticated) animals that can survive without any skills. We don’t need to hunt, gather, kill and craft. We have homes, supermarkets and a gigantic social system with governments and politics that decide on whatever we don’t want to, feel like or can’t.

Bottomline this means that even if you have nothing, no family nor friends, no job, no home; there is some place for you to go 1. So if you’re (semi-) healthy, functional and capable, you’ll be alright to some extent.

So what then happens when a man literally has to do -nothing- to survive? Like the circumstances nowadays, people have evolved to answer this question.

A brief stroll through history

So imagine a small village, some people fish, others build, others care etc. Everybody provides for everyone else.
This works because you may suck at fishing, as long as you can build the fisherman’s home, it’s a good guarantee you’ll eat. Everybody does this, because we all need each other to survive.

But then more people arrive, and there is a surplus of -let’s say- fishermen. The value of a fish goes down, because there is more supply then demand. Meaning the fisherman who get’s the most fishes, has the most fishes to deal out to other people with other services.

Move this situations forward some decades; we’ve gone from trading services to having a central currency. Because I might need a fish, that doesn’t mean the fisherman needs the bread I bake. So I sell my bread and use the coins to buy the fish. These are basic supply-and-demand theoretics.

So things went on like this for a while and things were good. The newly established economics allowed man to explore other things, as survival as a need was taken care of. Enter the birth of philosophy, art, science and organized religion among countless other things. People moved in to houses, got accustomed to organized care and got depended on the supply and demand chain we’ve conveniently created.

Back to the current day

These concepts evolved further and further and enter the current day. We are born in villages and cities who have all the supplies any human needs. From birth to childhood there are some factors we rely on our parents to survive, but after those early years, we’re done; nothing needs to be done.

But nothing can’t be done, of course. This society you were born in was built by people who worked hard to get there and it’s expected of you to do the same. Today it’s such basic knowledge that a person grows up to get a job and pay his own bills that we don’t even think about it that much; it’s just the way it’s supposed to go.

And in some way, this is how it’s supposed to go. We humans have evolved into this global society of creatures with all these structures, goals, rules and expectations and being born in that doesn’t leave us much choice to do otherwise. Though what we do see happening is that people want to break away from global industries, go back to the smaller and more personal way of living, which is a topic for another time.

So where does this leave us? Once just another animal in the food chain, today a superior race with no need to survive. The bottomline is that we are free to do whatever we want, but if we want to take advantage of this society that’s been created, we are expected to contribute. You want a roof over your head and get your fresh food at the supermarket? Great! Give us the coin and have all you want. Oh, you don’t have coin? Well then, you better get a job to get coin!

And this about sums up the modern search for meaning; why is man alive? No longer to survive, but free to do what we want. However we’re only free to a certain extent. Yes, we don’t have to spend time hunting and gathering anymore, but we do need to spend time to develop our skills and ourselves to contribute in modern day society.

Work (you could say, ‘sadly’), is now the foremost thing people live for. We used to live to survive, today we live to work. Of course this statement is subject to a lot of discussion because most people nowadays don’t want to believe this. And sure, there are alternatives, but in the grand scheme of things, this is the new standard.

And that brings me to the conclusion that today, work is our new survival in modern society. It isn’t dangerous like hunting and foraging in the forests, but it can be tedious, hard and tiring. So though we have evolved to a point of luxury, there is a price to be paid and this is how it’s done. And this leads me to think that if you enjoy your daily job, you’ve got the biggest chunk of your life covered.

  1. Though this care isn’t fully widespread along the globe, but that’s another topic.