Amor et Hilaritas

When thinking about the trials we face in life, I find it helpful to think about the distinction between tragedy and evil. There are things we all face that are just tragic inevitabilities built into the game of life, such as death; then there are things we face that are caused by the deliberate and unnecessary cruelty of others. Such gratuitous, pointless, preventable things are evil, and therefore harder for us to understand and endure. Yet endure them we must, because counter to them are both the necessary and unnecessary things that can make life wonderful: beauty, love, sublimity.

I contrast tragedy with hilaritas, and evil with amor. One of my favourite authors, Robert Anton Wilson, emphasised the importance of these two concepts, meaning love and cheerfulness (or good humour), in giving us the perspective to deal with life. He lived by example, emphasizing those concepts even in his final years, and seeming admirably content. In learning to endure we gain more insight into ourselves and our connection with our world, because of this we become more resilient, as it takes less for us to be happy and find meaning. Contentment comes more easily when we have it in us to feel love and good humour in the face of life’s ups and downs, as it becomes easier to find our own equilibrium again, and harder to lose it in the first place. Curating our lives by surrounding ourselves with beauty and with people who cultivate the best in us is makes this all the easier. The tragic inevitabilities of life can be faced with good humour; deliberate and unnecessary cruelty can be shrugged off with love.

So much of our social world focuses our attention on the tragic and the evil, with our cities and our every day world often lacking in accessible meaning or beauty; we are denied the time and opportunities to be with each other in ways that would benefit us. It is more important than ever to curate our own lives, in as much as we can, and focus ourselves on amor et hilaritas. When culture or circumstance do not seek to cultivate the best in us, we must do our best to do this for ourselves.

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