The second semester of 2017 birthed the series of posts that I will be publishing over the next few weeks. This series will explore the definition of livelihood, how individuality (or personhood) is linked to a happy life, the factors that influence what a happy life looks like, as well as a few stories and lessons I learnt during this time.
A Man’s Livelihood was born after countless hours spent with some of my guy friends (and their friends) and experiencing their silliness and brutality when they alone (alone because, majority of the time I think of myself as one of the guys). Despite the fact that I think of myself as one of them, they complained that I asked too many questions at the most inconvenient times. Gladwil (the person I hung out with primarily) complains that I say things aren’t supposed to be said, he also swears he will sue me if I don’t give him credit for the series (which I won’t). The behaviour of the guys I spent time with made me wonder what motivates people to do the things they do.
To understand why man does the things he does, I think it’s important to first understand what we are born with. I would like to say we come into this universe with a purpose, but there is no evidence that points to the fact that we are born with a purpose or a destiny. What we could conclude though, is that we are born with a desire to live. And while I believe that we are born to live, or at least with a desire to live, this is not to say that children who were/are still born are born so because they have no desire to live or that they do not deserve to live, I think understanding this aspect of birth and life requires spiritual and biological enlightenment that I do not possess. I realize that I ought to tread carefully when talking about life and loss (especially that of infants), that I ought to go about it in a manner that is not insensitive and callous. I also realize that some of the statements that I will make do not apply to all infants, but they form the basis of my conviction about what we are born into this life with.
One of the things that are a testament to the fact that children are born with a desire to live is their innate knowledge and understanding of health and comfort. Evidence of this knowledge is an infant’s ability to suckle a mother’s boob at birth, their unceasing screams when their diaper is soaked or muddy, their slumber when they tire and screeches of hunger.
The desire to be well fed, well rested and clean are secondary to the desire to live since they enable an infant to live/stay alive. Only later do children develop coping mechanisms; mechanisms that enable them to deal with neglect, malnutrition and other challenges. If you have children of your own or in your family you have probably witnessed a child’s panic when their faces are (accidentally) covered by a blanket. They’ll wrestle with the blanket until they have uncovered their faces or proceed to wail when they don’t resolve this problem themselves. I cannot say that their panic is due to the fear of death but it’s safe to assume that they panic because they see the darkness as a threat to their ability to live.
Hunger and fatigue can be life threatening, they can set in motion a set of biological events that can lead to death. However, a wet diaper does not have the same potentially life-threatening consequences that hunger and fatigue have, but one can imagine how uncomfortable it can get. Darkness in itself is also not life threatening, but it is not enjoyable. This is evidence that the things we need aren’t always directly related to the things that help ensure that we stay alive. Considering the behaviour of infants we can conclude that we are born with a desire to live happy lives, with health and comfort being the bare essentials of a happy life.
"Livelihood a means of securing the necessities of life..."
The behaviour of infants becomes relevant when you consider what the definition of livelihood is. Livelihood is defined as a means of securing the necessities of life, synonyms of livelihood include salary, income, upkeep, nourishment and subsistence. Taking the definition of livelihood into consideration, the question then becomes what are the necessities of life? The behaviour of infants infers that the necessities of life are a myriad of things that are not always related the body’s ability to stay alive; although the necessities of life definitely include food and clothing, these are not the only things that are essential.
Livelihood is therefore, not merely a means of securing the necessities of life but the means of securing the things that help one live a healthy and comfortable life (a happy life). My sister argues that my interpretation/definition is flawed and I’m being unnecessary, let me know if this definition makes sense and if you agree or disagree in the comments section below.
In the next post (The Parenting of Self) I will look at what a happy life looks like as well as the factors that influence what a happy life looks like. Subscribe below so you can get a notification when the post goes live :).
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