Philo and Hobbes

Philo: Have you ever wondered why we are here?

Hobbes: You mean why we are here as opposed to somewhere else?

Philo: No, I mean why we are anywhere.

Hobbes: I know why we are here. By chance and random events.

Philo: So there is no meaning to any of this?

Hobbes: No. Why do you always try to give meaning to random events?

Philo: How do you live like that? Maybe the fact that you see life as a series of random events is how you ended up here.

Hobbes: Excuse me. Aren’t you here too? What is your excuse?

Philo: At least I’m trying to understand and change things.

Hobbes: Is that why I saw you reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” in the library? What a waste of time! A search for nothing.

Philo: What do you plan to do if you get out of here?

Hobbes: Drive my motorcycle, bang as many broads as possible, and get high as much as I can.

Philo: And that will make you happy?

Hobbes: It’s the only reason for getting up in the morning.

Philo: How is it working out for you?

Hobbes: It was working out good when I had Rosita. I would stay in her house in the suburbs when her old man was out of town on business. It was sweet until he came home early one time and tried to kill me. I had to cut him from ear to ear with my switchblade. The judge gave me five years just for defending myself,

Philo: Why did he do that?

Hobbes: Maybe it had something to do with the three outstanding warrants for my arrest and the kilo of coke they found on me.

Philo: You think so?

Hobbes: Hey, I heard you were living in some crack house in Brownsville.

Philo: Yeah, but only because I was trying to support my three kids. Their mother was strung out and disappeared. I had no job skills and had to sell drugs to support them. They were living with my aunt in a decent neighborhood, but she couldn’t support them. Where are your kids?

Hobbes: I don’t know and I don’t care. I didn’t ask to be born and my folks never helped me. The world is a nasty and cruel, so you better find pleasure where you can before someone gets you.

Philo: Is it the world, or maybe the fact that your father abandoned you and you have done the same to your kids. Was that random or could things been different?

Hobbes: Maybe they are different in some alternate universe. If people think that things could have been different, then they are going blame themselves when things go wrong. The best you can do is accept what you’ve been given and not blame yourself or anyone else. I don’t blame my dad for what he did. I think he was messed up from his childhood growing up in the Jim Crow south in a town where the Klan ruled. Maybe things could have been different if he was white like you.

Philo: Some of the most successful people grew up in the same conditions. They rose above it because they believed it was possible. If you have a defeatist attitude, then nothing is possible.

Hobbes: Man that is blaming the victim. Maybe some people get a break because of random luck and they think they did it themselves. People take credit when something good happens and blame bad luck when something bad happens. Either way it is out of your control.

Philo: Yes, I agree that people take credit for the good that happens and blame circumstances outside their control for the bad. From what I read, I heard psychologist call it the attribution error. But that just means that people often have more control than they admit. I think your life would be better if were able to admit it.

Hobbes: I think your life would be better if you didn’t keep pissing me off.

Philo: Sorry if I hit a nerve. I’m not one of those Christian evangelists here who will tell you that God put you here for a purpose. No, you are right that we are born without any purpose. What you are wrong about is that one can’t be created. I was like you until I came here and read he existentialist thinkers like Viktor Frankl.

Hobbes: Like who? Which cell is he in (laughing)?

Philo: He was in something much worse than a cell. A place called Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp. Yet he still found meaning in his suffering. He said everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Hobbes: So he was the dude who wrote the book you were reading? Did he write that in the camp?

Philo: No, he was the only one on his family to survive. He wrote the book afterwards

Hobbes: Well, I’m glad he survived. I do think there is something to what he said. But even if change was possible, how did he think you can do it?

Philo: Through the process of self-discovery and reflection. Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.

Hobbes: Why am a listening now?

Philo: Because even you can’t escape having a will to meaning, whether you know it or not. We have nothing else here but our minds and the freedom to think.

A siren sounds and a prison guard approaches. “Recreation time is over,” he bellows. “Time to get back to your cells.”

Philo: Same time tomorrow?

Hobbes: You got it.

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