Rene Descartes is thought to have nailed it when he said, “Je pense, donc je suis.” Or, in Latin: “Cogito ergo sum.” In English we translate it as: “I think, therefore I am.”
It’s really clever. I can prove I exist because I have consciousness and because I have consciousness I am able to prove I exist. It’s almost a circular argument along the lines of whether the chicken or the egg existed first, but the genius of Descartes is that he enables us to enter that circle by the way he phrased the statement.
There have been later developments of this…
“I’m pink, therefore I’m spam.”
“I stink, therefore I scram.”
“I drink, therefore a dram.”
“I sink, therefore I swam.”
(You may suspect that some of these are not so much ‘later developments’ as ‘hot off the press poor quality puns’, and you’d be right).
But while Monsieur Descartes’ ability to prove existence is quite incroyable it does seem a little bit, erm, limiting if all we do is exist. I wonder whether beyond ‘I think, therefore I am’ we ought to consider something like: “I love, therefore I live.”
Existence is all very well, but it’s a bit lonely on our own. To be in relationship with others is far more exhilarating and the pinnacle of a relationship is to love and be loved. Not a mushy romantic love; nor a passionate sexual love; not even a familial kinship love. But he sort of self-giving love that wants the best for others and is not based on feelings that can change or on what the other person has done for us but on an a sense of the innate value of others. In loving that way we become truly alive.
And because love does not exist without someone to love it demands relationships so we go beyond existence on our own and find community, fellowship, friendship, companionship, belonging and the joy of being known.
If that sounds good, then don’t be surprised because it’s what Jesus was saying nearly 2000 years ago! It’s the way that God loves us and enables us to love others. It’s the way to experience life in all its fullness. It’s what is described in 1 Corinthians 13.
The art is to put it into practice.
Be blessed, be a blessing
By the way, if you don’t understand the title, x is tens… existence