About Everything Else

Just Where is Mark’s Lothian, Scotland?

It is a fictional place, but if I had to put it somewhere, it would not be where the actual Lothian, Scotland is located. The real Lothian is a highly populated area west of Edinburgh. If you look on Google Earth, you might search for Midlothian which is a county in the Scottish Lowlands east and south of Edinburgh. If anywhere, the Ramsay Estate would most likely be located near A7 highway, Melville Castle, bounded on the north by the River North Esk. Somewhere thereabouts.

And it is so simple… The one thing is — love thy neighbor as thyself — that is the one thing. That is all, nothing else is needed. You will instantly find how to live.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Nov 11, 1821–Feb 9, 1881)

The Meaning of Life according to Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian Author

The famous classical writer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, wrote a short story in which the protagonist, at a very low point in his life, considered life meaningless and decided to commit suicide.

In the story, the protagonist wandered the streets at night, feeling empty and alone. He thought perhaps life was an illusion or something only imagined by himself, for himself. That suicide would not only end his existence, but the existence of the entire world. He had given up on ever feeling anything again. No pain. No fear. No sympathy or empathy, but only apathy. Why, then, he thought should he continue to live for no reason at all but to keep the illusion alive.

And it is so simple… The one thing is — love thy neighbor as thyself — that is the one thing. That is all, nothing else is needed. You will instantly find how to live.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Nov 11, 1821–Feb 9, 1881)

While he was wandering one night, he was accosted by tiny ragged girl who tugged on his arm and begged him for help. He shooed her away at once, then went home bent on shooting himself that night. But something had happened. Something had happened of it’s own accord. Surely, had he been in sole control of reality and reality was only for him, no little girl would have come to him asking for help at that particular time because he was sure he was of no use, no consequence and no worth.

Baffled, he continued thinking and questioning how it could be that after all feeling, all emotion had left him cold and hollow, he could be bothered enough by the little girl to still be thinking of her. To be chastising himself for not helping her. Eventually, he realized the little girl had saved his life simply by existing, by being alive. As his thoughts progressed he became convinced his life had meaning. He was not as empty as he had thought. He felt pity for the little girl.

Feeling pity for her implied sympathy, even empathy. His apathy towards her shamed and dishonored him. Hence, he knew he still possessed some measure of self-esteem and honor. If all was lost, surely a man would not feel pride or a sense of honor. He would feel nothing. The girl would have meant nothing. Had he helped her, it would have meant nothing. The next day, she would have needed help again.

Perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps some other man or woman might help her on the morrow. Perhaps she would go on being helped until she no longer needed help at all thereby proving he was necessary to her existence and unnecessary at the same time. By extension, proving the world did not exist only for him, but for others as well. Others who sometimes needed his help and vice versa.

As he pondered these questions, he still meant to kill himself, unconvinced that his life could possibly matter to anyone, not even himself, he fell asleep and dreamed.

He dreamed he shot himself as planned and he died. Then somehow he knew he was dead and was aware of being dead and what was happening to him afterwards. (Sort of like an out-of-body experience within a dream. Reminds me of an enigma wrapped in a riddle, covered by a mystery.) At any rate, the protagonist does not seem to be annoyed or alarmed at finding himself dead and buried until something disturbed him. Something he perceived as vengeance because he had committed suicide. Something was punishing him, not allowing him to rest even in death.

Once the annoyance turned to rage, he called out God, but added a caveat saying if you exist in his rage. He demanded that if the Creator existed, He should make Himself available. I would take this as very unusual for a devout Christian such as Dostoyevsky to allow one of his characters to doubt God’s existence.

Apparently, much as God answered Job in the Old Testament, God answered the protagonist.The grave opened magically as dreams require and a dark angel lifted him up and took him through space to another star, another sun shining on a world full of happy people where things were good proving people were not inherently evil.

To make a long short story short, the man woke up and decided his life did have meaning, that life had meaning and that he knew what the meaning was. All a man or woman needed to know in order to live well is quite Biblical: Love thy neighbor as thyself.

And like looking into a fractal pattern repeating itself into infinity, the operative word is love.

Easily said, but hard in practice, such an attitude would put an end to all forms of evil in the world. If everyone loved everyone else, how could crime exist? And if you are a Christian as Dostoyevsky apparently was, you will know that Jesus of Nazareth (or the Nazorean as you wish) said the exact same thing: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 of the New Testament.

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